I’ve long said that major tech companies need to start realizing the threat that Comcast’s data cap scheme represents to their online video streaming businesses and now it looks like one of them has taken the lead. In an interview with CordCutting.com, Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch explains why Comcast’s data caps are potentially damaging for streaming services and why Comcast gains an unfair advantage over competitors when it creates its own TV streaming service that isn’t subject to any data limits.
“We see concerning things happening if you look at cable companies like Comcast now instituting data caps that just happen to be at a level at or below what someone would use if they’re watching TV on the internet – and at the same time launching their own streaming service that they say doesn’t count against the data cap,” he tells CordCutting.com “It’s something we’ve been warning Washington about for years, and it’s a risk to OTT in general. We’re Net Neutrality proponents, and want to make sure that rules are implemented so that it really is a level playing field for new players like us.”
Ars Technica has crunched some numbers and has found that if the average American watched all of the TV they now watch over video streaming services such as Sling TV, it would be almost enough to hit Comcast’s monthly 300GB data limit. And that’s if they don’t use the Internet for anything else such as listening to music streaming services, watching content on social media or downloading large console-quality games. And given how cheap 4K TVs have become this year, this problem is only going to get worse.
I’m very happy that Sling TV has decided to take the lead on this issue because it’s something that will seriously hurt the video streaming market if it’s allowed to go on unchecked. Simply put, when Comcast places restrictions on video content in the form of usage limits that it doesn’t place on its own IP-based video streaming service that it delivers over a separate channel from the public Internet, it’s still an abuse market power.
That said, there need to be more voices out there making a stink about this. Since Hulu is owned by several major television networks including the Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, it’s hard to see it taking a bold stance against data caps. Netflix, on the other hand, has a long history of publicly feuding with Comcast and has shown it can rally public opinion to its side. If there’s going to be a public backlash against what Comcast is up to with its policies, Netflix would be the perfect company to lead it.