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Most FCC commenters favor net neutrality—but you wouldn’t know it from...

Facing extensive net neutrality support, FCC is ready to gut open Internet rules.

After net neutrality comment system fails, senators demand answers

John Oliver caused big comment increase, but FCC blames DDoS attacks.

John Oliver tackles net neutrality again, crashes FCC comments site—again

Oliver helps lead protest against dismantling of Title II net neutrality rules.

How a Slack UI change sparked the Ars Technica civil war

We were fighting about emoji as “status” messages in Slack channels.
Seriously.

Dealmaster: Get FiOS gigabit Internet with TV, phone, and HBO for...

And deals on bluetooth headphones, laptops, hard drives, and more.

Silicon Valley’s fourth season starts comfortably—and makes us nervous

The old boss wants a new project. Will it lead to new comedy?

YouTube TV goes live today in five US cities, gears up...

AMC, BBC World News, Sundance TV, and more to come at no extra cost.

Danger, danger! 10 alarming examples of AI gone wild

Going rogue! 10 scary examples of AI gone wildImage by geralt via PixabayScience fiction is lousy with tales of artificial intelligence run amok. There's HAL 9000, of course, and the nefarious Skynet system from the "Terminator" films. Last year, the s...

How YouTube TV stacks up against DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, and...

Google entered TV streaming with a feature-rich service at an aggressive price.

Netflix is so big that it doesn’t need net neutrality rules...

Netflixreader comments 28 Share this story Netflix has long been an outspoken supporter of net neutrality rules, but the streaming video provider says it is now so popular with consumers that it wouldn't be harmed if the rules were repealed. The potential of reversing net neutrality rules increased the moment Donald Trump became president-elect, as Republicans in the Federal Communications Commission and Congress want to get rid of the rules.

But in a letter to shareholders yesterday, Netflix reassured investors that this won't affect the company's financial performance or service quality. "Weakening of US net neutrality laws, should that occur, is unlikely to materially affect our domestic margins or service quality because we are now popular enough with consumers to keep our relationships with ISPs stable," Netflix wrote. The FCC's rules prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment.

Because of the rules, small video providers that aren't as popular as Netflix don't have to worry about being blocked or throttled by ISPs or having to pay ISPs for faster access to customers.
ISPs would prefer that customers subscribe to the ISPs' own video services, and thus have incentive to shut out competitors who need access to their broadband networks. Though Netflix is no longer worried about its own access to broadband networks, the company's shareholder letter said the company still supports the net neutrality rules. "On a public policy basis, however, strong net neutrality is important to support innovation and smaller firms," Netflix said. "No one wants ISPs to decide what new and potentially disruptive services can operate over their networks, or to favor one service over another. We hope the new US administration and Congress will recognize that keeping the network neutral drives job growth and innovation." Netflix fought some high-profile battles against Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable in 2014, before the net neutrality rules were passed. Netflix at the time was seeking free interconnection so that it could deliver video traffic to the ISPs' networks directly instead of paying transit providers to carry its traffic to the ISPs.

This alone showed that Netflix was already a giant: Most video providers aren't so big that it's worth building out their own content delivery networks. Netflix ultimately paid ISPs for interconnection but the dispute had an impact on the FCC's net neutrality proceedings. The FCC didn't ban interconnection payments but set up a complaint process so that companies like Netflix can challenge specific payment demands as being "unjust" or "unreasonable." There have been no major public disputes since then. Netflix ended 2016 with 47.9 million paid memberships in the US and another 41.2 million outside the US.
In North America, Netflix accounts for about 35 percent of downstream Internet traffic during peak viewing periods, according to Sandvine's Internet Phenomena report. Netflix's letter to shareholders this week also poked fun at rival HBO for discouraging binge-watching by doling out episodes of new shows one at a time instead of all at once as Netflix does. Despite its previous fights with ISPs, Netflix has gained a privileged status with those same companies.

For example, Netflix is now available on Comcast's X1 set-top boxes, letting customers browse Netflix video alongside Comcast content. Netflix, video, however, is not exempt from the data caps Comcast imposes on customers.

Those data caps and overage fees do remain a roadblock for online video providers that seek to offer a replacement for the cable TV services offered by ISPs.

AT&T and Time Warner still trying to sidestep FCC scrutiny of...

Enlarge / AT&T will own a bunch of new media properties if it is allowed to buy Time Warner.Aurich Lawson reader comments 23 Share this story AT&T and Time Warner say they have a plan to avoid a Federal Communications Commission review of their pending merger. An FCC review would be necessary if Time Warner transfers any FCC licenses to AT&T, but Time Warner might get rid of any such licenses before the deal is finished. "Time Warner has conducted a review of all licenses that it holds that are granted by the FCC," AT&T said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday. "While subject to change, it is currently anticipated that Time Warner will not need to transfer any of its FCC licenses to AT&T in order to continue to conduct its business operations after the closing of the transaction." AT&T did not elaborate on how the licenses would be disposed of. "Time Warner has been looking to transfer or sell its licenses to another broadcaster for some time, according to a person familiar with the matter," Bloomberg reported today. "Time Warner can contract with third parties instead of owning the licenses, the person said." This may be difficult. As we reported in October, Time Warner-owned programmers such as HBO, CNN, and Turner Broadcasting System have dozens of FCC licenses that let them upload video to satellites used by pay-TV companies. These licenses are "integral to their business," one industry lawyer who spoke with Ars at the time said. Whatever happens at the FCC, the AT&T/Time Warner merger will be reviewed by the Department of Justice. While the Justice Department could sue to block the AT&T/Time Warner merger on antitrust grounds, the FCC reviews deals based on a "public interest" standard that forces the merging companies to prove that the deal is good for consumers. AT&T is attempting to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion. Time Warner, the programming giant, is a separate entity from Time Warner Cable, which was recently purchased by Charter. President-elect Donald Trump opposed the AT&T/Time Warner merger during his election campaign. Although Trump transition team members reportedly reassured AT&T that the deal will be scrutinized without prejudice, "Trump remains opposed to the megamerger... because he believes it would concentrate too much power in the media industry," Bloomberg reported, citing sources close to Trump.

The Grand Tour reportedly the most illegally downloaded TV show ever

Enlargereader comments 22 Share this story The Grand Tour is "the most illegally downloaded programme ever," according to new data from an anti-piracy firm.

The first episode, which we reviewed very positively, garnered 7.9 million downloads; episode two was picked up 6.4 million times; and the third ep was pilfered by 4.6 million people.

Amazon's new motoring show apparently even beats out HBO's Game of Thrones, which has been the most pirated TV show for the last few years. These figures were handed to the Daily Mail from Muso, an anti-piracy firm that may or may not be angling to pick up Amazon as a client. While Muso doesn't say how it derived those Grand Tour download figures, they're about in-line with previous analyses of the scale of BitTorrent downloads.
I think Muso is mistaken when it says The Grand Tour is "the most illegally downloaded programme ever," though, unless it's using some particularly creative accounting methods. Last year TorrentFreak estimated that the season finale of Game of Thrones was downloaded 14.4 million times via BitTorrent, and all signs point to GoT increasing in popularity in 2016. Our own analysis mostly tallies with that of TorrentFreak, too. How did Muso arrive at that figure of 7.9 million, then, and why was that enough for Grand Tour to steal the illustrious "most downloaded" mantle from Game of Thrones? Sadly, Muso didn't provide its methodology. We've asked the company for more details, and will update this story if it responds. Muso's figures are further confused by a comment from its chief commercial officer, which said that 7.9 million was the total "across different platforms." Does that mean that Muso has somehow managed to tabulate how many people are watching The Grand Tour on copyright-infringing streaming TV sites or downloading it from file-hosting sites? GoT's 14.4 million downloads was via BitTorrent alone; add the other platforms and the figure will be much larger. (We don't know how much larger, but 20+ million is likely.) Even if Grand Tour isn't the most downloaded show ever, our own analysis shows that it has been very popular on torrent sites and undoubtedly on streaming and file-sharing sites as well. Pirates love the show for two reasons: a) Clarkson, Hammond, and May are very popular; and b) The Grand Tour is exclusively available for Amazon Prime subscribers in just a small handful of countries, including the UK, US, Japan, and Germany. Amazon has never broken out its Prime subscriber numbers, but analysts peg it around 60 to 65 million worldwide.

Amazon says The Grand Tour will be available in 200 countries by the end of December, presumably via some other means than Prime, but for now there are millions of fans who can only obtain the show via unofficial means. By way of comparison, HBO has about 140 million subscribers worldwide (and Game of Thrones is available on other channels such as Sky Atlantic), and Netflix has about 90 million. Amazon, which in its 22-year history has never revealed more data than it absolutely has to, also hasn't announced the official viewer figures for The Grand Tour on Prime Video, so we can't even attempt to analyse the show's relative piracy level versus Game of Thrones.

Amusingly, even Clarkson, Hammond, and May haven't been told how popular their own show is. This post originated on Ars Technica UK