I love watching the World Cup, maybe even too much. As a recent MBA graduate I should be spending all of my time looking a job and helping my wife with her new acupuncture clinic. I just can’t help it. The World Cup is the greatest sporting event in the world and it only happens once every four years. So, I’ve accepted the prolonged start date and decided to indulge in the spectacle in South Africa.
The combination of my wife starting a new business and me being a recent graduate equates to low funds. To combat this we’ve been cutting corners where we can to save money. One measure we’ve taking has been to drop our Time Warner Cable TV service. We only pay for Internet. In 9 out of 10 situations this suites us fine. Unfortunately the World Cup is the 1 in 10 problem.
For the first 10 days of the World Cup I was able to view all of the matches on ESPN3.com. They provide HD streams, great commentators and pipe it all straight to my PC at no cost other than my Internet bill, brilliant. Unfortunately, just as the second round of the tournament got going I was no longer able to access ESPN3 streams. Instead I am prompted to verify my approved ISP provider. Missing from the list of over 150 providers is Time Warner Cable (TWC). I called TWC to ask why I can’t access content I thought I was already paying for. All I got was an apology without an explanation.
Then I started watching games on a handful of sites that provide peer-2-peer streaming, which wasn’t too bad. Watching matches in Arabic, French, German, Polish, and Russian exposed me to some interesting half-time advertisements. Now, I’m watching matches on UnivisionFutbol.com, who is ISP agnostic. But, since I’m paying for the Internet I feel that I should be able to access all of it. No gatekeepers please.
Turns out that I’m one of many caught in the crossfire between ESPN and TWC. ESPN charges the ISPs to carry their streaming content and TWC isn’t having it. I agree with TWC’s point that paying for Internet content is like old the old TV model. However, I highly doubt that ESPN’s asking price for content will sink TWC. The result of this standoff is that consumers lose.
I would love it if the ISPs became basic utility providers, like electric companies. If there are websites or services out there that interest me, I want to decide whether or not I get them.
In the end I view TWC’s position as anti-consumer and a reason to switch. If only I had know this would have been a problem at the beginning of the World Cup I would have switched.