To The Victor Belong The Spoils

TiVo Granted Patent For Burning TV Shows To DVD

Ahh, the DVD. Love it or hate it, it’s still one of the best ways to store data. I’ve yet to meet a hard drive that can survive for 5 years without failing, but as long you’re not using them for frisbees, the DVD can easily make it a decade or more without being damaged. There may be a question about whether or not we’ll have DVD players to play them with by then, but rest assured your data should be there.

Given my fondness for the scrappy little format, I thought it was interesting to see that TiVo was awarded a patent yesterday afternoon (Aug. 16th) for burning TV shows onto DVD. Just about anyone who has ever used a DVR has experienced hard drive related anxiety at one point or another. With the sheer amount of television out there, it’s easy to fall behind on your favorites and run out a space. Offloading programs to a DVD library is an excellent way to free up your hard drive without having to miss out on programming that you wanted to see. In the past, I’ve found this to be especially useful for archiving syndicated TV shows that aren’t always shown in their original order.

The abstract of the patent from TiVo’s application,

“According to an approach for storing digital content onto a DVD, digital content is received from a source, such as a DirecTV link, an over the air (OTA) broadcast, over a cable television link, or any other type of communications link, including the Internet. The digital content is formatted to comply with the MPEG standard to create MPEG digital content and stored on a non-volatile storage. Text-based information is received that describes one or more attributes of the received digital content. A set of DVD subpicture graphics is generated based upon the text-based information. The set of DVD subpicture graphics may represent a structure that can be navigated by a user when the DVD is played. The MPEG digital content is retrieved from the non-volatile storage, converted to DVD format and stored on the DVD with the DVD subpicture graphics. “

On the surface, the patent itself does seem a little bit obvious, but it’s also important to remember that it took the patent office almost 7 years to approve the application. Microsoft’s Media Center may have been using infringing :) on this technology for years, but I’m not sure that they had it in place prior to 2004. I think it’s also worth pointing out that even though TiVo now owns the patent on this technology, they don’t actually offer the service to their customers. Fortunately, the TiVo Community has managed to scrape together a way to do this on your own, but it would be nice to see a more elegant solution built directly into TiVo’s software.

Given it’s antique status, some may view this development as irrelevant, but because of the complex licensing issues that are tied to media, I believe that the DVD will have a much longer shelf life than most. When you consider how the studios are using artificial windows to try and dictate when you can and can’t watch certain things on Hulu and Netflix, it’s clear that if you don’t want to become a victim of disappearing windows, consumers will need the ability to archive content on their own.

DirectTV Delays Nationwide Rollout of TiVo Until (at least) 2012

Jul 1, 2011

Photo by Mike Demers

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been 3 years since TiVo announced that they were rekindling their relationship with DirectTV and yet consumers are still waiting for the DVR to drop. I’d say that even for TiVo, this kind of delay has to be some kind of record, except we’re also still waiting for the Comcast/TiVo DVR to launch.

Given the long lag time and complete radio silence by TiVo and DirectTV on the issue, I tuned into DirectTV’s 2nd quarter earnings call hungry for more information. Unfortunately, the call didn’t offer very many tasty morsels.

During the call, DirectTV’s CEO Michael White never actually mentioned TiVo by name, but did say that they the company planned on unveiling a new “high end” user interface in the fall (so far so good.) From the transcript of the call,

“the connected home experience is a fantastic experience. It’s going to get even better this fall with our new high-definition user interface and I think as we add more VOD titles, it’s just going to be more and more kind of pull from consumers I think for that experience and as I said, the good news is, we know it pays. It pays out because of the increased $2.50 in ARPU we get from it. But if we just kind of work in our way through some of the operational complexities of these, I think we’ve got a wireless capability that we’ll be launching this fall, as well as I think we’ll make it available to even more homes.”

He mentioned that this DVR would be entirely in high definition, would include multi-room functionality and would blow people away with it’s connected features. While it’s entirely possible that the DVR White is referring to, could be a generic update, a comment at the end of the call made me suspect that he was actually talking TiVo.

“we’ve got probably still some more work to do to fill in some more VOD content and really, with the HD user interface, really make that experience top for the consumer. I think we’re bringing Pandora, bringing in a bunch of things making it absolutely knock your socks off experience with the customer. And as I said, were already getting more than we had planned in ARPU lift out of those customers. So I feel great about the connected box strategy. I think we’re just working through some of the operational things.”

As far as I know, TiVo is currently the only DVR that provides support for Pandora.

On the surface this all may sound like good news to weary DirecTV customers, but once you actually dive into the details things get much less exciting. During the Q&A, White clarified that by “fall”, DirectTV really meant “the 4th quarter” and would later clarify that by the 4th quarter, he really meant closer to midway through it, since they didn’t want analysts to consider any revenue impact from a launch. Worst of all though, it sounds like DirectTV is following in Comcast’s footsteps, by limiting initial availability of the “new features” to select geographic regions.

“I think the nomad product, which is the ability to port your content from your DVR onto your iPad, I expect you’ll see that in some geographies before the end of the year, will probably going to do with in a fewer geographies to make sure that that’s working flawlessly before we roll it out so rollout might be in 2012. But you’ll see that before the end of the year, the high-definition user interface comes in in the fourth quarter.”

Given that it’s taken Comcast at least two years to expand out of the New England markets, I can’t help but wonder if there is some kind of clause in TiVo’s contract that encourages these sorts of soft launches. Previously, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers had argued that one of the benefits to TiVo being a software company is that they could download their software all at once to their partners and achieve tremendous scale almost overnight. As these rollout continue to “launch” though, this doesn’t look like a very accurate expectation for customers or shareholders to have.

While I’m sure that TiVo is very busy counting all of the money that they’ve made from their business dealings with Dish, it’s frustrating to see “legitimate business partners” continue to pay peanuts for development deals, when it’s clear that they’re only really interested in the patent protection. Instead of being upfront and honest with their customers though, both companies continue to string them along, while we’re forced to wait unreasonable periods for a product that will be obsolete before it’s even launched. For TiVo fans that are still holding out for DirectTV support, the only advice I can offer, is to go pick up a TiVo premiere, a set of HD antennas and make sure to tell DirecTV that you’ll enjoy saving hundreds of dollars per year while enjoying a better DVR.

Why Won’t AT&T Protect Your Grandmother’s Data?

He Sold His Soul to Telephone

Photo by Thomas Hawk

While going over my finances yesterday, I noticed a strange anomaly with my bills. After 3+ years of sending out a regular phone bill in the mail, all of a sudden AT&T stopped. Concerned that there could be a mix-up with my account, I contacted AT&T’s customer support line and was told that ebilling had been activated on my account.

The only problem is that I’ve never registered for online account access, nor have I ever provided AT&T with an email address. When I asked where my bill was being emailed too, the agent couldn’t provide me with an answer, but did say that my statement had been sent out this way for the last 3 years!

People may not be able to siphon money out of your bank account with your phone records, but they can still use this information to harm you. A competitor could use the list of phone numbers you call to prospect for clients, a thief could look for patterns of activity so that they would know a good time to pull off a burglary or a home invasion or an upset ex could use the records to stalk and harass you. While I’m inclined to believe AT&T when they claim that this mixup was actually caused by one of their employees, the thought of someone (nefarious or random) seeing this level of personal detail is a little unsettling to say the least.

Given the fact that there could have potentially been an online intrusion into my privacy, I asked AT&T to investigate the matter further and even more importantly to disable access to my online account. After 30 minutes on the phone, the AT&T rep ultimately declined to investigate the matter further and told me that the company has no way of turning off access to your online bill. Her only solution was for me to register my account online and to set my own password, so that someone else couldn’t register without my being notified first.

While I imagine that a large percentage of AT&T’s customers register for online account access, I’ve got to suspect that I’m not the only one whose never taken the time to do this. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that less than 25% of all senior citizens haven’t registered for online access. Given that all one really needs is a copy of someone’s phone bill, AT&T’s policies are putting some of their least tech savvy customers at the greatest risk. With zero notification for when ebill gets turned on, customers who depend on the physical mail for their billing info must wait at least 30 days to find out that they could have been a victim to a crime. Meanwhile, someone could use the time they get from hijacking your billing, to put 1-900 charges on your phone or to sign you up for monthly plans that don’t really provide any benefits.

Other utilities that I’ve contacted, haven’t had any problems with this request. PG&E for example, won’t even provide me information over the phone, unless I show up to one of their retail locations with my ID in hand. This may seem a bit extreme for most people, but your smart meter data is just as vulnerable.

To say that 2011 has been the year of the hack is an understatement and while I’m sure that AT&T spends millions on internet security, no system is fool proof. Add the fact that AT&T actually receives a percentage of the proceeds from the estimated $2 billion illegal cramming industry and one could make an argument that this security vulnerability is by design so that AT&T can profit at the expense of their less savvy customers. I love the internet and how quick and easy it is to get access to important data in my life, but if other people can also access that data, I’m not sure that it’s worth the risk.

Did Motorola Get Caught With A Smoking Gun? TiVo Demands Source Code Access To Secret DVRs

TiVo’s Motion To Compel Source Code

(Above you’ll find a copy of a motion to compel that TiVo filed against Motorola on July 22nd, 2011. On July 25th, the judge in the case gave Motorola 14 days to comply with the order or to explain their actions to the court. To view all of the exhibits, associated with the complaint, you may click on the following links: Declaration By TiVo’s Attorney, Court order requiring production of all source code, Motorola dodging TiVo’s phone calls, TiVo’s initial patent complaint against Verizon.) As a friendly reminder, I am both a TiVo customer and shareholder.

TiVo’s love quarrel with Echostar may have just come to an end, but they still have two more elephants lined up in the crosshairs of their gun and while I always hate to read too much into the legal tea leaves, recent action on one of the dockets, suggests that they may have just stunned one of them with a tranquilizer dart.

As part of their patent lawsuit against Verizon, TiVo had initially requested access to Verizon’s source code on their FIOS DVR. This kind of data makes it easier for TiVo to identify any potential infringement and would certainly be a key piece of evidence towards proving any patent violations. Now there are many reasons why Verizon might not want to turn over this kind of data, but where things start to get weird is that instead of objecting to the request, Verizon claimed they weren’t able to comply with it because Motorola was the one that developed their DVR. This seems fair enough, so in good faith TiVo began working with Motorola to obtain the data.

Fast forward through three months of stalling and Motorola finally turns over two different copies of their database to TiVo. The problem with this is that once TiVo started going over all the documents that they collected, they discovered that Motorola had actually developed “many more versions” of the source code using secret codes names like Burbank, Carlsbad, Del Mar and Cardiff. In total, TiVo believes that there are over 30 different models that Motorola has out there and after being stung with delay after delay over “software modifications” in their trial against Dish, it’s easy to understand why TiVo would want to exercise extreme due diligence on this one.

Once TiVo realized that Motorola was trying to pull off the old fumblerooskie play on them, they dragged Verizon and Motorola back into court and clarified that they wanted all of the source code data on their DVRs. The judge agreed and in March of this year, he ordered Motorola to release “without limitation all Deployed versions of Motorola’s Del Mar source code and all Deployed versions of any predecessor to the Del Mar source code, as well as associated Broadcom code.” [Note: Emphasis added by me]

After the subpoena, one would have really thought that this would be the end of it, but instead Motorola continued to try and string TiVo along. In the attached exhibits, TiVo demonstrated that they contacted Motorola numerous times to discuss the deficiency, yet Motorola seemed only willing to reply whenever TiVo threatened to flex their legal muscle in the case. At one point, Motorola even set up a conference call to deter TiVo from filing this motion to compel, but then opted to ditch out on the call (without even having the courtesy to cancel.)

While these sorts of petty issues won’t actually impact the case, they can still provide us with insight into the case. Motorola’s lack of responsiveness suggests a certain squirreliness on their part. Instead of portraying a company that is confident in their legal position, the attachments paint a portrait of a company that is desperately trying to do anything to avoid turning over this evidence. The very way that Motorola has treated TiVo over the last 8 months could be a primer on how to maximize passive aggressiveness by only using your caller ID. After considering TiVo’s frustration with moving the case forward and the lack of any real justifications for the delays, the judge gave Motorola a final deadline of 14 days to turn over the evidence in question or to demonstrate why they seem to feel that they don’t need to comply with the court’s instructions.

Netflix Gone Wild

Netflix may have one of the best movie recommendation engines out there, but from time to time, their suggestions do get thrown off the track. I’m not sure whether this is proof that Skynet Netflix still has a long ways to go before it becomes self aware or evidence that their algorithms are so good, that they can spot connections, even when they appear ridiculous to us mere humans. Either way though, the results can be hilarious! After pouring through 100′s of nominations, I’ve put together a top 10 list of some of their more wonky suggestions.

#10 – Make Love Not War

One would think that Ken Burn’s award winning documentary on WWII would appeal more to those who are further from the cradle than the grave, but apparently senior citizens enjoy Angelina Ballerina and Barney too! (h/t – Plamere)

#9 – Who Said Kids Find Documentaries Boring?

This may be a case where it would be more helpful for Netflix to suggest something the kids might like a little bit less

#8 – Beneath the tough rapper exterior lies the heart of a romantic

It may not be all that exciting of an ice cream flavor, but romantic musical fans will melt for vanilla

#7 – Who Knew Mrs. Doubtfire was so angry inside?

Robin Williams’ dressed in drag was pretty painful to watch, but not chop up and eat people bad.

#6 – One Of Netflix’s Darker Comedies

Yup, that’s right, after you watch Reno 911, even Auschwitz will seem funny by comparison

#5 – Beware the Penguins?

Oh sure they look all cute and adorable, but not if you’re the fish. Something tells me that Netflix may have outsourced this movie category to Charlie Tuna.

#4 – The Scariest Movie on Netflix

Mallcop may have been bad, but it’s a pretty low blow to call it a horror movie

#3 – I’m pretty sure that most pregnant women aren’t that flexible

Is your significant other all of a sudden obsessed with Cirque Du Soleil? You may want to think about taking a pregnancy test h/t – Tgidenver

#2 – Netflix Suggests That It May Be Time To Consider Therapy

It’s good to know that I’m not the only one from a dysfunctional family. For those looking to deal with your Father/Daughter issues, Netflix recommends, the Call Girl or the steamy erotic thriller, Lie with me.

#1 – A Friendly Reminder From Netflix That You May Not Be Ready For Kids Just Yet

Don’t be fooled by the photo of the cute baby on the cover of the movie, It’s Alive probably isn’t something you’ll want to watch if you’re expecting

Still haven’t had enough? Here are a few more that didn’t make the top ten list;

Want to learn whether or not your new date has apartment full of cats back at home? Find out her thoughts on King Lear, Looking for Swamp People? Try the Kardashians, Did you enjoy the Last of the Mohicans? Well Netflix is pretty confident that you’ll enjoy The Last of the Mohicans, Netflix outs Top Gear driving enthusiasts for being closet Jane Eyre fans, Do you enjoy Louis C.K.’s edgy sense of comedy? Well you may want to think about going back to school because Netflix sees advanced Physics in your future, Frankly, the talking lobster already freaks me out, but Netflix thinks people who enjoy movies about LSD, will really like the Little Mermaid too, When I think of classical movies, Black Snake Moan isn’t the first thing that pops into my mind, If you ask them, GI Joe fans will deny it, but apparently they have a soft spot for furry little Sharpays, Family Guy fans take note, you may be a freakin’ genius, Freaks and Geeks are always welcome in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

Google Is Dialing Wrong Number When It Comes To Phone Spam

It may not be the most polite thing to do, but we’re all guilty of it. The phone rings and some random number pops up on your screen. 10 years ago, I would have answered it, but now thanks to caller ID, whoever it is can go straight to voicemail. Of course when they don’t leave a message, curiosity inevitably gets the better of me, so it’s off to Google in order to find out whose call it was that I just bounced.

To Google’s credit, they have been pretty aggressive about fighting spammy search results from content farmers, but when it comes to your digits, they still haven’t found a way to filter out the spammers from the legitimate information. Take for example, a Google search for my own phone number

As you can see from the screenshot, Google is really good at finding any and all search results with this number in it, but most of the links presented are directing users to pages and pages of meaningless phone numbers. If you click on Google’s #1 search result for my phone number, it leads to a company named While this site does provide “reverse lookup” services, it will cost you $15 if you want to buy a report letting you know that it was Davis Freeberg who called. While my blog’s contact page does show up as the 2nd search result for Google, the remaining 467 results are all similar search spam of some sort.

By comparison, the same search on Blekko (who tends to use more aggressive spam filters) yields only 2 results, both of which are high quality hits.

It would be easy to blame AT&T for this problem, because I imagine that there are all kinds of data silos that surround our phone numbers, but when you consider the my number is actually a Google Voice number, there really isn’t any excuse for Google to be directing traffic to these paid services instead of my Google profile.

While I’ve never spent money on any of these reverse lookup services, I imagine that there are lots of people who have paid for information that they could have gotten for free. In an ideal world, I’d like to see Google partner with some of the telephone directories to improve these types of searches for consumers, but in the meantime simply nuking the “directories” that are gaming the system would be a positive step in the right direction.

Why Doesn’t AMC Want My Money?

AMC Empire
Originally uploaded by imoteph9

Most businesses are thrilled when someone wants to give them money, but for some crazy reason whenever you’re dealing with Hollywoodnomics, logic seems to get turned on it’s head. Case in point: MoviePass

I love the movies, in fact I’d argue that I’ve probably seen more films than 90% of the population. As a moviehound, you would think that I would be one of AMC’s best customer’s, but the truth is that in the last 5 years, I’ve only seen 2 movies in the theater. While there are a lot of reasons why, it essentially boils down to the fact that it’s hard for me to justify paying $9 for a film, when I can watch it at home for free*

Now in reality, my TV isn’t actually free, but psychologically, it feels that way because I “rent” my content through services like Netflix and TiVo. While I’m sure that PPV and Blockbuster would prefer that I take advantage of their services, the simple truth is that the transaction fee involved (no matter how small) has made them persona non grata in my lifestyle.

I’ll be the first to admit that watching a film on my 60″ TV isn’t the same as seeing it in Imax, but when the choice is to pay money vs. seeing something for free*, it makes it a lot harder to accept the premiums that the theaters charge. Four years ago, I noted that consumers were making a transition from a pay per view model to a subscription model and that movie theaters would be wise to endorse the trend.

“Why not offer a monthly subscription fee to your local movie theater chains. Consumers would be happy to spend $30 or $40 per month in order to have the privilege of seeing films the way I did when I worked for the theaters. Instead of collecting $40 per year from me now, theaters could instead bring in $480 each year with an all you can eat model.”

A long time ago, I worked as an AMC projectionist and every Thursday night, I’d stay up to the wee hours of the morning screening the new films before they opened. Because of this experience, I know first hand how powerful a theater subscription model could be, which is why I’m so confused that my former employer wouldn’t recognize the brilliance behind MoviePass. What makes this all you can eat movie experience so special isn’t the access to the big hits that you’re dying to see, it’s being able to see mediocre films in a larger than life environment without having to put your wallet at risk. Yet for some strange reason, AMC isn’t interested in attracting customers to their most empty theaters.

Now I can’t speak for everybody, but in my case, had MoviePass existed back then, AMC would have collected $1,920 in ticket sales. Instead they’ve earned less than $40 from me and that includes popcorn.

Not everybody chooses to rent their content, but when you look at the number of cable, satellite, Hulu, Netflix, etc. subscribers, it becomes clear that a huge segment of society chooses to consume the bulk of their content this way. This is why, when I saw that MoviePass was going to create a subscription theater service, I thought it was a no brainer for the theaters involved.

Instead, AMC decides that they want no part of this? Can someone please help me understand how this makes sense because AMC’s justification that “plans for this program were developed without AMC’s knowledge or input,” or that “it does not integrate well into our programs and could create significant guest experience issues”, rings hollow in my opinion.

AMC could have picked up a brand new customer willing to buy tickets in bulk and instead of nurturing a new source of revenue (while MoviePass assumes the risk of proving an experimental business model), AMC has chosen to ban it because they weren’t consulted first? This seems awfully shortsighted and petty on the part of AMC.

If AMC really believed in the mantra, listen, learn, discuss, decide, execute, measure and … repeat, then they would have at least taken the time to see if MoviePass could bear any fruit. Instead, they’ve jumped straight to an execution (with a promise to repeat if anybody else decides that they want to give them buckets of money without permission.)

I could almost understand this reaction, if AMC had some type of similar program that MoviePass was competing with, but the reality is that AMC has failed dramatically when it comes to the execution of their customer loyalty programs.

For 25 years, AMC ran a program called Summer Movie Camp for kids. The idea was basically a seasonal version of MoviePass, except restricted to handful of old kids movies. Given it’s long run, one would think this was a homerun for the cinema, but I can tell you first hand that AMC did a terrible job of running it. Even on their own website, AMC admits it was a failure.

“Unfortunately, the number of guests has been fewer in recent years, with many shows operating with less than 25 guests in the auditorium. Last year, attendance dropped so significantly that we have made the difficult decision to discontinue the program.”

AMC’s most recent program, also looks like it will be a dud. Not only do consumers now have to pay $12 a year for the privilege of frequent customer membership bonuses, but they only save 10% off for every $100 they spend. This means that you would have to pay to see 33 films in a year before you would actually earn a free one under the program. It’s nice that they want to be so stingy with their best customers, but MoviePass really wouldn’t threaten this.

If MoviePase attracts moviehogs, then it will be uneconomical for them as a business. If they attract consumers like myself, who refuse to pay transaction charges for their entertainment, then it’s complimentary to AMC’s existing program and could greatly expand revenue. It’s hard to tell what the future holds for MoviePass at this point, but with the major theater cartels going hostile against this new innovator, I can only hope that independent theaters will be more interested in collecting hundreds of dollars a year from me instead.

Netflix Makes Deal With The Devil – Now Streaming Snuff Film Online

I’ve always enjoyed violent movies. A quick look at my Netflix’s rating history reveals a pantheon of horror films. Whether we’re talking Michael Myers or Alfred Hitchcock, there’s something about gratuitous violence that tickles my funny bone. When it comes to real life violence though, I am generally much more squeamish. Nearly ten years after 9/11, I’m still haunted by the news footage of people jumping to their deaths from the burning buildings. While some might argue that this line really shouldn’t matter, this distinction is often the difference between a black comedy and a documentary.

This difference may also help to explain how I can be thrilled to see Netflix adding Pulp Fiction to their watch now service, but dismayed to learn that they’ve also added Death Scenes 1 – 3. For those not familiar with the Death Scenes series, it’s a collection of extremely graphic video clips that show the murder and execution of countless individuals. It is “narrated” by Anton LaVey himself, the founder of the church of satan.

Back in the 90′s, I had friends who would trade Faces of Death VHS cassettes, but Blockbuster was never foolish enough to rent them in their stores. Netflix on the other hand doesn’t seem to have a problem renting snuff films to their members and I think this is a mistake. While I respect the fact that Netflix doesn’t censor other people’s movies, they have drawn a line by not offering pornography on their service. Whether or not, Death Scenes is a pornographic snuff film or a documentary I’ll leave up to my readers to decide, but before clicking on this graphic link to view the evidence, you should take a look at excerpts from how other Netflix members have described the film.

“I was very disappointed in the fact that so many of the scenes had no commentary or too little and seemed to just be a shock value show” – Steathl

“In my opinion, this footage does not qualify as a documentary. Rather, Id consider it more along the lines of a smutt film or Faces of Death with a heaping scoop of pointless thrown in for your viewing displeasure” – QBS 1996331

“There a couple of scenes that will stay with me forever. One was a boy of about nine dressed in 30s style clothing with his hands tied behind him and laying sideways after being executed. The other scene that I have trouble getting out of my head was the pre execution footage of a guerrilla rebel all of about 16 tied to a pole awaiting a firing squad. He looks directly into the camera and you are looking at a boy, face full of rage, terror and, defiance. The next scene he is executed with the other rebels.” – Sedatme

While I didn’t waste my time watching every minute of this film, I did see enough to know that this is closer to pornography then it is to a “documentary” and I would hope that Netflix would be able to see that. The idea of watching people being brutally tortured or murdered may appeal to some niche quarters of the internet, but it’s not appropriate on a site like Netflix.

Update – A quick check of the website, seems to suggest that Netflix has taken the series offline. With so many films that they’re licensing, it’s probably hard for Netflix to watch everything that comes in. My guess is that this film somehow slipped through the cracks and once Netflix became aware of it they reviewed it and rethought whether it was appropriate for their site.

Ohio University Bans Netflix During Finals Week

Universities across the US have been at war with P2P for a while now, but this is more than a little bit ridiculous. In an attempt to manage their network, Ohio University has banned access to Netflix. A copy of the university’s email was originally posted to Reddit

“OHIO Students,

Due to extremely high demand, the university’s Internet connection currently does not have enough capacity to meet service expectations and results in noticeably slow connections at times. Traffic analyses have shown streaming media usage accounts for nearly two-thirds of our current demand, with Netflix being the largest single consumer of our Internet capacity. In an effort to free up the bandwidth faculty and students need to complete academic online tasks during finals week, the university will be instituting a temporary limit on the total bandwidth available for Netflix traffic. The restriction will go into effect this evening, Monday, March 14 at 6:00 pm. OIT appreciates your patience as this temporary corrective action is taken. We welcome and encourage your thoughts on a more permanent solution as we engage the university in planning on this critical issue.

Best regards, J. Brice Bible Chief Information Officer”

I’m not sure whether or not this will boost grades at the school, but it does say a lot about how popular Netflix is becoming. While this may be a temporary fix for the school, it isn’t a very good long term bandaid. The internet is more important than it’s ever been and students need access to a robust network to participate in that. If the school can’t keep up with demand, their customers (the students) will leave for places where they have unlimited bandwidth. Even if the school doesn’t upset their students, it’s not going to stop digital video consumption. A ban on Netflix will only drive their students underground where illegitimate sources of content can fulfill their entertainment needs.