Wednesday Notes

You know all those promises by internet service providers that they don’t need any silly Title II rules to behave themselves? Those rules haven’t been repealed quite yet, but Charter is already using the likely FCC decision to argue its case against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. As Daniel Frankel writes at FierceCable, “In its letter to the judge, Charter discussed how the FCC’s proposed ‘light-touch’ regimen dispenses of rules governing paid prioritization, thus damaging Schneiderman’s case regarding Netflix throttling.” Which leaves us with little reason to expect anything better than the worst-case scenario once ISPs can do whatever they want.

Jeff Baumgartner of Multichannel News hits the highlights of a report by The Diffusion Group predicting that legacy pay TV service penetration will fall to 60% by 2030. Meanwhile over-the-top pay TV will grow from 4% of U.S. homes to 14% by then. I remember when I encountered my first report like this at an old magazine job and immediately thought it was a big deal. The wise senior editor looked at me as the rookie I was and gently admonished, “They’re just guessing.”

On the other hand, as Jeremy Barr of The Hollywood Reporter and others noticed, ESPN laid off another 150 employees this morning. “The cuts represent less than 2 percent of ESPN’s 8,000-strong workplace, and the network is still hiring.” The wife asked me if this is the start of the network’s death spiral. I assured her that ESPN would endure, if ever so slightly more frugally. The real pinch should come in two or three years when sports rights fees will stop escalating, and owners and players will need to agree on the best way to divide a more stable revenue pie. I predict at least one major sports lockout by 2020, but I’m just guessing.