Wednesday Notes

If you read nothing else, check out today’s article in Wired about the origins of Net Neutrality, written by the guy who coined the term, Tim Wu. The concept that bridges, railroads, and other common carriers shouldn’t discriminate based on traffic type goes back hundreds of years, and the telecommunication version goes back to the early 1970s. Wu also offers a bit of hope from the court system. “The Supreme Court requires that an agency demonstrate its action was not ‘arbitrary’ or ‘capricious’; it must ‘examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action.'” he wrote. “And when it changes course dramatically, as the FCC has, the agency must explain why it ‘now reject[s] the considerations that led it to adopt that initial policy.’”

Joel Espelien of TDG Research wrote that despites its denials, Amazon is prepping a skinny bundle of pay-TV channels to launch in the first half of 2018 as an Amazon Prime benefit. As he pointed out, for folks who subscribe to Prime mainly for the free shipping, everything else is gravy; it “feels like it’s free.” Amazon doesn’t need to make money on TV in the short term, and getting customers hooked on a “free” set of channels might be a great opportunity to upsell them on some premiums.

And Parks Associates released a report on Smart TVs and The User Experience, as reported on today by Broadband TV News and others. It said that viewers want easy navigation and discovery in their TV interfaces. I’d add that curation underpins that discovery component, and that ease of use is paramount. When Roku first came out, I wondered why anyone would choose it over a connected, dedicated Windows PC, which could access everything the Roku could and then some. Now I know better.