Today, Sports Fans Coalition filed at the Federal Communications Commission alongside Public Knowledge opposing relief on Charter Communication’s merger conditions. Public Knowledge is a public interest group which promotes freedom of expression, an open internet, and access to affordable communications tools and creative works. Sports Fans Coalition has partnered with Public Knowledge many times before to protect sports fans access to online and televised sports.
Charter has a long history of anti-competitive behavior which has harmed sports fans by raising the costs of sports packages and limiting access to the games they love. The merger conditions which the FCC imposed in 2016 were designed to protect consumers from the Charter imposing data caps, prioritizing content, and a number of other consumer protections. Now, Charter is asking the FCC to waive some of these conditions.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that Americans remain connected. With the return of baseball this week and other major league sports just around the corner, that connectedness becomes all the more important. By allowing Charter to start adding data caps, Americans across the country will face increased costs during a time when many don’t have flexibility in their budgets.
For example, If a family who had a 1TB plan wanted to stream an average, three-hour-long baseball game in 4K, that family could use between 18 and 48GB. Generally, a professional baseball team plays about 28 games per month during the regular season. If this family has a superfan who watches every game their team plays, they could exceed their cap by the third week of the month.
The risk of exceeding a cap increases drastically for this family when you factor in the rising popularity of e-sports. Video gaming can use between 40 and 300MB per hour, depending on the game. If this family has an average gamer who plays for six hours per week, the family must use seven more GBs of data per month. However, what makes e-sports so unique is how it encourages the fans to interact with the professionals through streaming apps such as Twitch. Watching videos of your favorite e-sports athlete can quickly burn through data at rates similar to other online video platforms, depending on the resolution.
You can read the entire filing here.