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Why Major League Baseball is worried about net neutrality

At this point in the net neutrality debate, it appears that every individual, organization and politician has spoken out on their personal view on the issue and where they hope legislation will lean toward in the fall. Most recently, Major League Baseball has released a statement on their stance, and the letter is making waves in the media.

Why does the MLB care about net neutrality?
Political blog In The Capital reported on the MLB's input, and speculated that their comments are related to the increased fees from major Internet Service Providers the organization faces if net neutrality is overturned. As a company that streams games online to viewers, they would be facing a similarly hefty hit to the bottom line as with other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

"Fast lanes would serve only one purpose: for Broadband ISPs to receive an economic windfall," the statement explained. "American consumers would be worse off as the costs of fast lanes are passed along to them in new fees or charges where there were none, or higher fees or charges where they existed."

According to Quartz Magazine, the MLB, or the BAM as they are referred to in the Web industry, is currently the largest purveyor of live streamed video on the Internet and have every reason to fight against the impending "fast lane." With over $800 million in projected revenue in the year to come, a great deal of this profit could stand to be lost if new fees are imposed on the service. As a result, their letter was passionately worded versus ISPs, and claimed that their proposed policy changes were "unsupported by the facts."

Unlike other national companies fighting against the legislation change like Google, Facebook and others, contributor Jeff Haynes wrote that the MLB's contribution to the conversation is an especially interesting one, as the company's interests have been frequently considered within the government in the past. However, with a number of service providers ranking among the top lobbying spenders in the country, this may or may not make a difference.

How are other companies speaking out against overturning neutrality?
The MLB is by no means alone in making these efforts to avoid paying additional fees, cleverly disguised as an activist campaign. To get an idea of exactly how common, just take a look at the petition versus net neutrality released this past May, signed by over 150 businesses across the country. At its time of publication, the FCC was scheduled to discuss net neutrality in just a week, though this didn't result in any official legislation moving forward.

"Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination," the letter of protest stated according to the Washington Post, "the commission's rules should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination and paid prioritization, and should make the market for Internet services more transparent."

While their uniting versus the overturn of net neutrality has been well-received by citizens, their interest is just as financially motivated as the sports league's. Dodging the fast lane will mean quite a bit of saved revenue for major companies, and potentially the salvation of smaller brands who would not be able to afford to buy into the new system imposed by Internet Service Providers.

America's pastime is no stranger to controversy and affecting social change – just think of how players like Jackie Robinson helped transform the world's attitude toward racial issues in sports, or Lou Gehrig's activism regarding his disease. Net neutrality is just the most recent cause the organization has attached itself to, and has the ability to benefit financially and among users who support the cause in one fell swoop. 

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