The First Not So Net Neutral Deal and Other Bullets

cat computerMeta: The first deal in the wake of the recent no-more-net-neutrality decision is upon us, and it’s a big one. Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast, essentially, so that Comcast’s customers can receive better/faster streams of Netflix. As I wrote before (read that if you want more background on this very important issue), this makes me extremely nervous about the future of the Internet. Large companies like Netflix have the cash, the scale, and the incentives to pay for faster delivery*; large ISPs like Comcast have the customer base and the incentives to gladly accept that money. Consumers will end up footing the bill – these things always filter down to the consumer level – and smaller Internet-based entities could eventually be squeezed by ISPs to either pay them extra money, or have their web content throttled or blocked. That’s the doomsday scenario for places like BN, and it’s still not one I see as likely. That said, I didn’t think a deal like this Netflix/Comcast one would come just a month after the court’s net neutrality decision (Netflix and Comcast say they’ve been working on this for much longer, which I’m sure they have been, but the timing of the announcement and the content of the deal cannot be unrelated to the decision). Hell, the FCC hasn’t even decided how it wants to proceed. But once these deals start being struck, and the – eh hem – political nudging begins? There will be no turning back.

*(Some will argue that, technically, that’s not what’s happening here, as Netflix is merely paying Comcast so that the ISP will connect directly to Netflix’s servers, rather than using intermediaries that can slow down delivery speeds. To me, that’s a distinction without a difference for our purposes here.)

  • Mark Gonzales reports that Junior Lake went down for a little bit during BP yesterday after fouling a ball off of his leg. He eventually finished his round of batting practice, but you always imagine the worst in those situations (recall, it was a similar foul ball that reportedly injured Jorge Soler’s leg last Spring Training, which happened again midseason, leading to/exacerbating a stress fracture in his leg and ending his season). Lake says he’s fine, though. Remember: guys foul balls off of their legs frequently, and it almost never leads to a serious injury.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer recounts a story with Mike Olt, who was apparently shagging balls in the outfield the other day … with a bat. Like, picking the balls out of the air, on the run, with a swiping swing of the bat. Regardless of your opinion on the safety or wisdom of such a practice, it certainly suggests Olt is feeling supremely confident in the state of his eyes. As we’ve said again and again, having his eyes back where they were in 2012 isn’t the end of the story for Olt as a possible big leaguer this year – but it’s a hell of a great start.
  • Justin Ruggiano is impressed with the Cubs’ farm system, which is among the best he’s seen in his playing days.
  • I was on the Ivy Envy podcast last night, discussing the top story lines of Spring Training for the Cubs this year. It was a blast, and those are some good guys there at Ivy Envy. Give them a listen.
  • A great writeup at Cubs.com on new Cubs first base coach Eric Hinske, who is learning the ropes as a first year coach (but who can relate very well with the players for that reason).
  • A profile from Patrick Mooney on Welington Castillo, and another on Edwin Jackson.
  • A combined ranking of the top top prospect lists over at The Message Board.
  • The Dodgers and Diamondbacks are scheduled to head to Australia to open the Major League season on March 22 and 23, as part of MLB’s efforts to spread the game around the world, and to create “events.” I have no beef with it from that perspective, and actually think it’s a great idea. But, logistically, it’s a real bear, given that the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have to end their Spring Training way early, have to do a whirlwind flight-games-flight schedule with minimal rest (and it’s two very important, divisional games, mind you), and then have to kind of sit around for a week before the rest of the regular season gets underway. So, when Dodgers starter Zack Greinke had some unflattering things to say about the games, I understood where he was coming from. Still, he’s getting some heat for saying this: “I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it. There just isn’t any excitement to it. I can’t think of one reason to be excited for it.”

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

70 responses to “The First Not So Net Neutral Deal and Other Bullets”

  1. Blackhawks1963

    It’s interesting (and probably not surprising) that Valbuena is being treated as the starting 3rd baseman while Olt is playing across the field.

    1. Chad

      Do you say this because he was shagging fly balls in the OF? Everybody does that in ST. This doesn’t mean Olt isn’t going to be playing 3B. The title of the article is even about Olt at 3B.

  2. Patrick G

    I have asked this before on here but wanted to get people’s opinion. Does anyone have mlb tv and use on iPad, ps3 or blu-ray? I have been back and forth for years on getting it but thought it was a waste since the cubs were pretty bad and now I found out I can watch minor league games too. I heard mixed emotions about the quality and how it freezes often. Does anyone have any input?

    1. itzscott

      I had MLB TV and while I had no problems with freeze ups, it was a pain trying to watch a game on a computer monitor/laptop. It’s got to be even worse on a smaller iPad screen and worse still on a tiny phone screen.

    2. WiscCubsFan

      I used it last year and found it generally to work well and usually provided an HD quality stream. The minor league games were not included in the subscription last year (were a separate subscription) and there was no app you could watch them all on. Maybe that has changed for this year but I’m not aware of it. All the minor league content was available from a computer browser but only some of the games on the milb mobile app and no way at all to watch them on a game console, TV app, etc.

    3. DrReiCow

      I have MLB.tv and I watch games on my laptops, ps3, kindle, and phone. I love the service and have been an auto-subscriber for several years now. (NOTE: I don’t live near Chicago, so it is the only way for me to see all* the games.)

      * – Screw you Fox.

      I’ve had no issues with freezing or performance, but you need to make sure you have decent bandwidth to stream games, obviously.

      Moo.

      1. Porkslap

        Also, make sure you check out your local blackout restrictions. I live in Nashville, which is somehow considered part of Cincinnati’s blackout territory, and can’t view any Cubs vs. Reds games on MLB TV.

        1. Joker

          I live in the area as well, but most of the Cubs/Reds games are on Fox Sports Net so that’s the reason/alternative.

          1. Porkslap

            Yes, they are now, but back when the Cubs were last watchable I don’t think Nashville got very many Reds games locally. It was very frustrating.

            1. Joshua Edwards

              I lived in Chattanooga for a while and they were the AA home of the Reds affiliate, hence the odd blackout region. It sucked to lose 18 games a year unless WGN was broadcasting Cubs/Reds.

        2. DrReiCow
          1. DrReiCow

            Wow.. epic fail on that image. Pretend I hit the edit button and changed it to the link: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/59/MLB_Blackout_Areas.png

            Moo.

        3. DarthHater

          12749000075_f6403f2150.jpg

      2. Joshua Edwards

        Same here. I started with mlbtv years ago and have auto – subscribed ever since. Just know your regional blackout situating and make sure you’re Internet connection is solid and should be good to go. Frankly, a family of 4 can barely go to a real game for less than the subscription price.

        This year I upgraded my phone for a bigger screen and HD experience: I watch games everywhere.

    4. Joker

      I’ve had it for 4 years and love it. The software is top notch and very few glitches/delays as long as your internet service is a reasonable speed. The experience is even better if you have a smart TV.

      1. MattM

        Guys if you have an Xbox 360 there is absolutely NO reason you should be watching games on your TVs in high def! I spend 24 bucks a month and get at LEAST 120 games in High Definition on my 82 inch tv! It shows really really well!

        Add to that Netflix and you have yourself a very nice system! So for those that hate watching Cubs games on computers (which I did the first season I had it and it sucked) then go to game stop or some place and buy an Xbox 360 for $100 set it up and have a ball!

      2. Patrick W.

        I first subscribed in 1995! I have subscribed every year since then, even the 7 or so I lived in Hoffman Estates.

        I use it on my PS3, my Roku, my Galaxy Note 3, and my Kindle fire. If you are only going to use it on a small screen, I don’t know if the premium service would be worth it to you.

        1. MattM

          I agree! It’s definately worth it if you have an XBox or Ps3 though…. I’m sure at some point they will jack up the price on us though…

    5. hyde4us11

      I couldn’t live without it. I’m disabled so I don’t leave home very often so this is my summer entertainment. I’m also an early to bed early to rise so the blackouts don’t affect me on the night games front. It plays a factor on the weekends but I manage.

  3. Myles

    I love Zack Greinke.

    1. Edwin

      I was just going to say the same. He’s just one of the best quotes around.

      1. DarthHater

        Well, if he really wanted to outrage the Aussies, he should have included a reference to dingos.

        1. Fishin Phil

          They ate my baby. Dingos, not Aussies.

  4. Seth

    Man, I wonder if Zach Greinke is excited to play in Australia.

    1. DarthHater

      There is a 0% chance of that.

  5. itzscott

    Comcast is but one piece of Netflix’s universe. It doesn’t make sense for Netflix to cut a deal with Comcast and not all other ISPs.

    Theoretically that would mean that if one were a Netflix customer yet not a Comcast customer, you’re screwed because streaming would be so slow as to make Netflix a pain to watch their movie offerings.

    1. Luke

      It’s not a matter of Netflix cutting deals, it’s a matter of Netflix effectively being forced to pay whatever the ISPs demand. That becomes more problematic when Netflix is competing with a service offered by that ISP.

      The Internet is rapidly changing, and the current FCC is entirely content to sit back and help it happen. Right now it is not a matter of if there will be negative repercussions, but how severe and unexpected they will be allowed to become before someone finally can be bothered to think about eventually scheduling a meeting to consider the potential for a long term situation in which exploring an action becomes advisable.

      1. Cubbie in NC

        The same FCC that floated the idea of sitting in the newsrooms?

  6. gcheezpuff

    I work in the industry and believe people are going to make a bigger deal about this agreement the needed. This is a peering arrangement that will improve the quality of netflix video streams to Comcast subscribers. Comcast is currently the largest ISP in the country (most end users). This agreement impacts the largest quantity of netflix subscribers and delivers them a better quality product. For Comcast, it strengthens their position as a leading ISP and content provider as the broadcast TV business declines. Other large ISPs such as Verizon and ATT will quickly follow suit. Netflix is targeting broadband partners first because they have the largest amount of residential internet customers which make up the biggest percentage of their customer base.

    1. MattM

      This is absolutely BS! I wouldn’t be surprised if some people in the judiciary system weren’t slipped money for this rulling! It makes absolutely NO sense!

      What the F&(*) are people like Brett going to do. How about small businesses that rely on the internet! OMG I’m so pissed about this it’s crazy!

      To be quite honest this is Mother F&*)*(in robbery if you think about it. I buy my goddamned internet and if I wanna watch a Cubs game or look at Bleachernation or PORN no asshole from Comcast is telling me I can’t do it!

      I’ll probably be the first consumer to sue over this! It’s un american!

      1. gcheezpuff

        This is a gross over reaction and most people don’t understand what is going on here. Companies like Comcast have peering agreements with other ISPs (verizon and AT&T for example) large content providers by upstream from large ISPs. When content travels over the internet, the content either stays on the providers network (content provider and customer both use same ISP) or they data travels through these peering connections (content provider and customer use different ISPs) each time data travels between these peering points addition equipment is traversed introducing something called latency (delay) . Latency can severely impact voice and video quality because it is time sensative. Netflix prior to this agreement purchase upstream from only 2 ISPs and depended on peering agreements to deliver thier product to customers. By peering directly with Comcast they are actually eliminating latency to a huge percentage of thier customers. If I worked as a network engineer for netflix (I am am actually a network engineer by the way) I would actually push hard for direct peering arrangements with every large ISP out thier so I could deliver the best quality product. Netflix is merely investing in thier network with this arrangement. Responses are way overblown here.

        1. gcheezpuff

          Sorry for typos… This was written from my iphone.

    2. ClevelandCubsFan

      Consider…
      1) Most consumers have very limited choice in ISPs in most areas.
      2) Broadband service in the USA sucks (higher price, lower speed) compared to many other developed nations.
      3) 1 & 2 are probably directly related (though not the entire picture).
      4) Comcast charges consumers to have Internet content delivered to them.
      5) Comcast wants to charge content-providers extra fees to have better delivery service to Comcast’s customers.
      6) Comcast (and other ISPs) also are content providers.
      7) When Internet service providers are Internet content providers (ICPs) who want to charge other ICPs premiums for improved service it seems very likely that this will give the ISP-ICPs an advantage that is distinctly non-competitive.
      8) Lack of competition diminishes prospects for innovation and lowered costs, particularly hurting the end user.
      So, yeah, this stinks

      1. MattM

        A BIG AMEN to that my friend!

        From the consumers point of view though this is bullshit! They are basically saying that they will decide what contect to make available even though I pay Comcast BULLSHIT prices!!!!!

        God I hate Comcast and any other asshole company that pulls this shit!

  7. Jon

    I’m not sure what shagging balls in the outfield with a bat means, likely nothing. Big difference between a pop up and a 98 mph fastball.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “Big difference between a pop up”

      It would be fun to watch you try.

      1. Jon

        Of course. But that is irrelevant to the point.

  8. Cubbie in NC

    Good luck with things Brett. There is little doubt that the net neutrality has other intended consequences hopefully the sports world impact will be more minimal.

  9. blublud

    The fallout over the Zach Grienke comments is just dumb. He is a grown ass man, and can say what he feels. He didn’t disrespect anyone. Not MLB, not Australia and not the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks. All he did was state how he feels, and I agree. These games are absolutely stupid. I can’t think of a dumber thing to do than make a team play 10-15 fewer training games than everyone else, have to make roster decisions sooner than everyone else, have to travel thousands of unnecessary miles away to play 2 games that count more than a week before everyone else does. Its just stupid. I wish all these sport leagues, specifically MLB and the NFL would stop this crap. This is an American league, play the games in American. At least the NBA does it in the preseason, even though its still dumb.

    1. Jon

      I feel terrible the Dodgers are saddled with this competitive (dis) advantage. What’s next, they’ll allow payrolls double/triple to that of pretty much every other team?

  10. Ballgame17

    Brett, so you said “these things always filter down to the consumer level”? Haha, you’re still good, we’re the consumer of BN and we’d be the one’s paying for it. If it came down to it, I’d pay a monthly subscription, no doubt. You consistently do great work and it’s always appreciated.

    Thanks for the laugh about Olt, who hasn’t tried that? It certainly isn’t easy and I was laughing imagining him doing that at ST. I just like the fact it seems like he’s comfortable enough with his teammates to be doing this and if he was worried about his eyes, he wouldn’t be d*cking around. Nothing, but a positive sign!

  11. cavemancubbie

    I don’t mind paying for content, as long as I don’t have to put up with the damn commercials. I wont pay to see adds. That goes for the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and the NCAA. I will pay to see the local high school play ball before I do that.

  12. Ballgame17

    +1, can’t stand all of the “forced” marketing. If I was paying for ads, I would NOT promo my product/service online when you’re having to wait to read an article, see a video, etc. People are pissed when they see your ad and if anything associate “negative” feelings with it. Makes minimal sense to me…

  13. johnnyp

    “Regardless of your opinion on the safety or wisdom of such a practice” That made me chuckle. I’m rooting for Olt, but after hearing this…I’m afraid I’ve seen lemmings with more common sense. Tomorrow’s headline, “Olt hospitalized after taking fly ball to the dome”

  14. another JP

    I’m enjoying these stories about Olt as much as anyone and hope he’s back to his old self. The only rub is if his problems making contact spill over from what happened in Iowa last season, then it will all come down to his lack of ability. This spring training is indeed put up or shut up time for guys like him, BJax, and Vitters.

    OTOH, I find the comment made by Ruggiano to be most encouraging. That guy played on some damn good teams and to laud the Cub prospects as he did is awesome. And Castillo’s been effusive in his praise for Vizcaino, Strop, and Edwards so far. Those are the kind of comments I love to hear.

  15. Rebuilding

    Nice write-up on Netflix/Comcast, Brett. You nailed it, this precedent isn’t good for anyone who provides or consumes info on the Internet

    1. gcheezpuff

      This precedent doesn’t affect Brett her his hosting company in anyway. This is sime Netflix buying an large upstream connect from Comcast the largest ISP in the US based on subscriber count. This would be. Non-issue if netflix originally purchased an upstream from Comcast instead of a cheaper option with less subscribers and peers. All companies big and small choose who they buy internet from. Netflix pushed a significant amount of content and didn’t original want to pay to improve the quality of their product, by purchasing from Comcast directly they are bring their content closer to thier largest base of customers. It amazes me how many people don’t understand what this agreement actually is and want to unjustly criticize because of perception of the companies involved.

      1. gcheezpuff

        Nevermind my posts from the iPhone suck today. I can’t even read them because of typos… Sorry

  16. Diehardthefirst

    London, Australia, next Bombay- it’s the Cricket Circuit- would be more efficient to fly over 1000 fans for free to expose them to MLB in the states to see if they like it

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