Streaming Video Without an Open Internet

On February 26, 2015, The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to enact a series of “Open Internet” protections. The three central rules prohibited Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking access to legal content, slowing internet speeds to certain websites, and favoring certain types of internet traffic over others. The 3-2 Commissioner vote was split along party lines; 3 Democrats voting to approve and 2 Republicans voting to reject. FCC Commissioners are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year terms. Leadership rules require that no more than three Commissioners come from the same party. Democrat control of FCC leadership is slated to end in May, when Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s term expires. Rosenworcel, a Democrat who voted to approve the February 2015 rules, will likely be replaced by a Republican. If the new Commissioner’s ideology matches that of current Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, repealing the Open Internet protections could become a priority. By the end of 2016, over 22% of all US households are expected to be “cable-free.” Just two years earlier, the percentage of households without pay TV was under 20%. During the second quarter of 2016 alone, approximately 812,000 customers cancelled their pay TV subscriptions – the largest quarterly loss ever. In addition, roughly 2 in 5 US Households subscribe to at least one streaming video service. Before the 2016 Presidential Election, the number of “non-pay TV” households was expected to near 30%. With a reversal in FCC leadership looming, traditional television service may rebound. According to a January 2016 poll, most “cord cutters” ditched their pay TV services due to cost....