Newsy Taps Former USA Today Networks Exec Ahmed Al-Kalby as Director of OTT Programming

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Newsy has appointed USA Today Networks’ former director of product management Ahmed Al-Kalby as its director of OTT programming, it announced Wednesday morning.
In the newly created role, Al-Kalby will oversee programming strategy specific to New…

YouTube TV Hires NBCU Executive Lori Conkling as Global Head of Partnerships

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Lori Conkling is leaving NBCUniversal to lead partnerships for YouTube TV. Conkling will also lead partnerships for Google Fiber, the company’s internet service division.
In her new role, Conkling will lead YouTube TV’s programming and pack…

How Xumo Became an Acquisition Target: Active Users Jump 60 Percent With Push Into Free Movies

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Xumo, one of the biggest ad-supported streaming platforms, is ramping up at time when rivals like Pluto TV have become acquisition targets.
The eight-year-old company now reaches 5.5 million active users each month, a 60 percent increase from eight mon…

Jukin Media Hires Former Comcast Executive Craig Parks as GM of Brands

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Jukin Media has tapped former Comcast executive Craig Parks as general manager of brands.

Parks, who previously served as VP of programming for Comcast’s now-defunct video platform Watchable, will lead programming and strategy for Jukin Media’s slate of brands. That includes Fail Army and The Pet Collective, which combined have more than 15 million subscribers on YouTube alone.

Prior to Comcast, Craig served as SVP of live programming at Participant Media where he was in charge of live events and special projects.

Also Read: Jukin Media Taps Former Discovery Exec Jill Goldfarb as VP of Linear (Exclusive)

“Craig is a true pro and the perfect choice to lead our efforts as our brands continue to grow and evolve from social media powerhouses to full-fledged multimedia entertainment brands,” president and COO of Jukin Media Lee Essner said in a statement.

“These are truly modern-day media brands, each with an ecosystem that spans all the major social platforms, connected TV, mobile apps and even traditional TV,” Parks said in the joint statement. “Not only are they built for consumers who increasingly spend time across platforms for their entertainment, they’re ideal for advertisers to be able to reach consumers wherever they view video content.”

Founded in 2009, Jukin Media acquires user-generated videos and licenses the content for third-party use, in addition to featuring the videos in its own productions. Jukin’s owned-and-operated media brands, which also include People Are Awesome, JukinVideo and Poke My Heart, have a combined 160 million followers and nearly 4 billion video views across Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram, according to the company.

Also Read: Verizon Follows Comcast in Dropping Jennifer Lopez’s Fuse Media Network

In addition to being distributed across its social channels, its brands have found a home on more than 20 mobile, web and OTT video services, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung’s TV Plus, XUMO, Pluto TV, Plex, Tik Tok and iFlix. Its linear channels for The Pet Collective and Fail Army average 90 million minutes watched per month across both channels.

Craig’s hire comes shortly after the hire of Jill Goldfarb, the former vice president of programming for the Discovery Channel, who joined Jukin Media as its first-ever vice president of linear programming in December.

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5 Questions With XUMO’s SVP of Product Chris Hall

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When it comes to TV viewing habits, cord-cutting is only going to continue, says Chris Hall, senior vice president of product at XUMO, a live television and video-on-demand service.
In his role, Hall leads the product strategy and development of XUMO’s core streaming media technologies. The services are integrated into a suite of connected devices (such as smart TVs and set-top-boxes) and free-to-download, consumer-facing applications (for platforms including Android, iOS and Roku).
The service leans in on live TV, much like Pluto, which is among Xumo’s direct competitors.

This week we caught up with Hall to talk about how XUMO plans to compete in an increasingly crowded OTT market. Hall discussed the company’s strategy for continued growth and offered a prediction on what trends he thinks will shape the streaming TV marketplace in 2019.

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Disney’s Streaming Service

TheWrap: As we’re approaching the end of the year, what major trends or developments do you think will shape the streaming TV marketplace in 2019?

Chris Hall: Cord-cutting will continue its upward trend. But media consumption isn’t slowing — it’s just shifting. In October of this year, the IAB released a viewer receptivity report noting that viewers value the content they’re streaming on XUMO nearly 10 percent more than what’s available through cable services. Increased interest and demand means that consumers will have even more choices and options for streaming entertainment in 2019 and beyond. Services that thrive will be the ones that not only deliver exceptional content, both in caliber and volume, but the ones who harness technology and new product capabilities to optimize their platform and viewing experiences — whether someone is watching on a connected TV or mobile device. With a great deal of investment in these areas, XUMO is both excited and bullish about our ability to continue scaling, innovating and helping to define the experiences of streaming TV.

From a product standpoint, what’s the key to building a free streaming TV service in today’s competitive market?

One of our most important achievements has been delivering simple, yet elegant interfaces that put usability at the top of the priority list. In order to do so, we’ve built an extremely intricate and highly automated infrastructure that allows us to intelligently program and operate over 150 channels that span multiple genres and delivery types. We facilitate, fully, live streams from top content partners like CBSN (live, breaking news) to the PGA TOUR (where we streamed live coverage of the FedEx Cup playoffs), while also bringing our user base nearly 5,000 movie titles from over eight different providers, and a full library of on-demand videos from each channel. Our commitment to quality content, presented at the right time and in a logical, easy-to-use UI has been instrumental in our gaining and maintaining a competitive edge.

With a foothold in connected TVs, does XUMO plan to grow the service via apps or other delivery methods?

Developing and supporting native integrations is our bread and butter. We were one of the first to pioneer these types of custom-built and platform-specific streaming services with LG, Hisense, Sharp and VIZIO years ago. From those early days until now, we’ve continued to build and tweak the offering, making data-driven alterations to enhance the overall quality of service — both on our native integrations and inside our owned and operated experiences. We aim to always provide a best-in-class experience for the viewer and there are a lot of opportunities to expand on this beyond connected TVs. In fact, by the end of the year, we’ll be making some big announcements about both distribution and new integrations that will bring our service to several million new viewers.

Also Read: Netflix Denies Serving Up Posters Based on Users’ Race

How does XUMO intend to compete with additional AVOD (advertising video on demand) products and services hitting the market like the Roku Channel?

We want to remain at the forefront of this AVOD trend and recognize the value of competition in the market. That being said, we believe the additional increase of eyeballs — in a space that we’ve been operating in for years — will actually be great for our business. To stay ahead of the game, we’re actually partnering with several device manufacturers to provide our intelligently curated, ad-supported linear streams to their platforms for an expanded audience to enjoy. To best unlock this exciting opportunity for new, off-platform distribution, our team of streaming media experts worked in partnership with the demand side of our business to develop our own SSAI (server-side ad insertion) solution. SSAI ensures that ads are dynamically inserted into these linear channels no matter where the stream is syndicated, while maintaining the targeting capabilities needed to maximize revenue. At present, we’re exploring the scalability and capabilities around this exciting new technology.

Also Read: Netflix to Raise $2 Billion to Fund New Content

As the head of product, how have you evaluated the different viewing experiences a user should receive when presenting a mix of short and long-form content?

Consumers are gravitating toward our service in large part because we provide a vast range of programming across a multitude of formats. We’ve seen user viewing consumption grow by nearly four times year over year, and we’re looking at further growth trends this year. In fact, since launching earlier this year, our TV & Movies genre has crept up to become one of our top three consumed genres. These statistics indicate that there’s a healthy interest in long-form content and that our service is quickly becoming a regular entertainment habit for millions. Additionally, XUMO viewership data is showing a somewhat unsurprising/stable interest in live streamed programming, but also a steady and impressive growth trend in VOD consumption. We’re continually evaluating the different viewing experiences required to highlight both live and short and long form VOD, and we put a heavy emphasis on discoverability and surfacing the right content for the user at the right time to achieve that.

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Innovators List 2018: 12 Hollywood Disrupters, From Kenya Barris to Xumo

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2018 was a transformative year across Hollywood, media and technology. #MeToo dominated the conversation. Studios and companies embraced diversity and consolidation. And everyone started riding scooters.

TheWrap’s 2018 Innovators List gathers together those thought leaders who are making transformation happen across their industries. They’ve grown media empires as legacy media outlets struggle. They’ve worked to change their perceptions beyond where they began their careers. And in the case of one individual, wanted to quit the industry all together.

You can check them out at the Innovators panel at The Grill conference on October 2 at The SLS Beverly Hills, an event that brings together the leading voices in the convergence between entertainment, media and technology.

1. Kenya Barris, TV Producer 

The creator of ABC’s hit show “black-ish,” and its “grown-ish” spinoff is truly having a moment. The writer/producer has worked to highlight black voices and tell black stories in film and on TV that resonate with broad audiences. Barris co-wrote the 2017 feature comedy hit “Girls Trip” and is writing and producing a “Shaft” sequel set for 2019.

In August, the mega-producer dipped out of his ABC deal a year early, inking a nine-figure deal with streaming giant Netflix. Barris said he cut ties with ABC after the network blocked a politically charged episode of “black-ish” that would have addressed President Donald Trump, the Charlottesville riots and NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Also Read: ‘Black-ish’ Creator Kenya Barris: I Left Disney for Netflix Over Shelved Anti-Trump Episode

2. Alyssa Milano, actress and activist

And they say a tweet can’t change the world. A little under a year ago, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a note from her friend saying, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of magnitude of the problem.”

The floodgates opened from there, with millions of women to this day sharing their stories. Milano in the process became one of the de facto figureheads for what would become more than a hashtag, but a movement.

And while she always practiced activism in addition to her acting, 2018 has put her in a new light and trajectory. Along with Mark Ruffalo, she led the #StateoftheDream rally as counterprogramming to Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, calling for immigration reform and a more inclusive America. And last week as #MeToo nears its firstanniversary, she could be seen sitting just rows behind Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh as they testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

3. Bill Simmons, The Ringer

After an unceremonious exit from ESPN in 2015, leaving behind the now-shuttered, once beloved sports and pop culture site Grantland, Simmons found his second act, starting The Ringer in 2016. The website has seen incredible growth in its first two years, breaking traffic records each month and increasing its reach roughly 40 percent compared with last year.

But Simmons and his Ringer staff have truly hung their hat on the The Ringer Podcast Network, one of the largest and most lucrative audio-based networks with 27 different podcasts including the “Bill Simmons Podcast,” “The Watch” and the popular “Binge Mode” series. As podcasts have gained popularity among audiences in recent years, Simmons and The Ringer have been at the forefront of pushing the limits of the medium, generating more than 30 million downloads per month.

Also Read: Bill Simmons Says Trump Is ‘Intentionally Putting American Media Members in Actual Danger’

4. Erika Nardini, CEO, Barstool Sports 

In 2016, Nardini took over as CEO of the irreverent and boundary-pushing sports, news and men’s lifestyle media company Barstool Sports. The company has been accused of being crude, misogynistic and racist, but it maintains a loyal following. When Nardini took over, her plan was not to change the site’s focus, but find a way to help it reach a wider audience while holding on to its base.

The 20-year media veteran has helped Barstool secure a partnership with ESPN for a show — ultimately canceled because of a clash of cultures — as well as a Comedy Central show in the lead up to Super Bowl 51 that was the network’s No. 1 series among the key 18- to 24-year-old demographic during its four-night run. Nardini is subverting expectations and trying to lead an irksome underdog to the digital media summit.

5. Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO, Xumo (VIDEO) 

With over 140 digital channels of free premium programming, Xumo is a leading force in the ad-supported streaming TV industry. Over the last year, CEO Colin Petrie-Norris has led the company to increase viewership on the platform by 325 percent and user consumption by 90 percent.

To accomplish this growth, Petrie-Norris has been aggressive in helping lock down partnerships with companies like CBSN, PeopleTV, CollegeHumor, History and PGA tour. The CEO has also worked to integrate XUMO into the interface of select TVs and streaming devices, which now account for more than 90 percent of the traffic on the platform.

Also Read: Bill Simmons Says Trump Is ‘Intentionally Putting American Media Members in Actual Danger’

6. Hannah Gadsby, performer 

Hannah Gadsby is in a strange spot. The Tasmanian stand-up comic recently been thrust into international fame, but she earned that fame by saying she wanted to quit comedy.

Gadsby’s sobering and widely acclaimed Netflix special “Nanette” begins as her usual brand of self-deprecating humor. But 17 minutes in, she drops the bombshell that what she’s been doing is “not humility. It’s humiliation.”

The special opens up wounds for Gadsby to grapple with her identity as a lesbian artist out in the open. She proceeds to call out straight white male artists and reveal how her comedy has only put up painful barriers in her life, deconstructing norms of jokes and stand-up along the way.

Her routine has led some (mostly male) critics to wonder if she’s even telling jokes or debate if what she’s doing can even be considered stand-up comedy. But there is no shaking how she has changed the comedy landscape. She screams in her special, “I am in my prime,” but it feels like Gadsby is only just getting started.

7. Toby Sun, CEO, Lime Bike  

The scooter craze of 2018 is real. In a little over a year, Lime became one of the leading electric scooter ride-share companies in a crowded market, expanding beyond its programs on college campuses to attract over 6 million riders to dockless electric scooters.

CEO Toby Sun, along with co-founder Brad Bao, have garnered $335 million to promote their smart mobility initiative and even have planned expansions to Israel and Austria. Hey, even Elijah Wood is getting in on the fun.

But in addition to working to outpace its competitors, Lime has battled to educate sometimes resistant cities on the benefits of ride-share programs and to fight lawsuits restricting access to where Lime scooters can operate — particularly after two recent cases of deaths involving riders. Still, Sun is committed to continuing the “movement” in spreading the reach of Lime and transforming urban transportation.

Also Read: Bird or Lime? Winners and Losers of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Scooter Wars

8. Bo Burnham, Director 

Many comedians have turned to filmmaking and personal stories to transform their image and become something more than just a person who tells jokes. But for Bo Burnham, his debut feature film “Eighth Grade” turned the camera away from himself and onto a teenage girl, making for one of the most honest representations of teenage life in the modern, social-media-driven 21st century yet. And Burnham has done it all before turning 30.

The evolution comes as part of a 10-plus year career where Burnham has shifted between social-media star, stand-up comedian, musician, actor, writer and poet, a performer who has been taken seriously far beyond his years for some time. But with “Eighth Grade,” he’s managed to take yet another step, inspiring other comedians to find an outlet to tell stories other than just their own.  

9. Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, playwright and activist

It’s a new day and in the era of #MeToo, Times Up and #OscarsSoWhite, and actress, playwright and activist Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni has helped lead the charge in developing and raising awareness for inclusion riders.

Frances McDormand created a stir when she accepted her 2018 Oscar for Best Actress and closed her speech by saying: “I have two words to leave you with tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion riders.”

There weren’t many people at the time who knew what an inclusion rider was, but Cox DiGiovanni was one of the few. Along with Stacy Smith, who developed the idea of inclusion riders while serving as director for the Inclusion Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication, Cox DiGiovanni encouraged childhood friend Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to adopt inclusion riders at their production company, Pearl Street Films, where she serves as head of strategic outreach.

And in conjunction with Smith and Washington lawyer Kalpana Kotagal, Cox DiGiovanna helped develop the legal language for inclusion riders that are being adopted around Hollywood with increasing frequency.

Also Read: 7 Hollywood Stars to Add Inclusion Riders to Their Projects, From Michael B. Jordan to Brie Larson (Photos)

10. Matt Stern, COO, Mira Augmented Reality (VIDEO) 

Augmented reality — where computer graphics are superimposed over the real world — has grabbed Silicon Valley’s attention. Spearheaded by Apple, the premier tech company on the planet, the tech world is betting big on AR becoming one of the defining sectors of the next decade. And Mira Augmented Reality aims to be at the forefront of that revolution.

Founded in 2016 by three USC students, the Los Angeles-based startup quickly won funding from a who’s who of investors, including Sequoia Capital, musician will.i.am, and Salesforce chief Marc Benioff.

Mira has sold thousands of its affordable headsets since last year, aiming to capitalize on the budding AR gaming market. Now, co-founder and COO Matt Stern says the company is developing both software and hardware for a myriad of industries, from telecom to aerospace and defense. AR isn’t just a new form of entertainment — it’s already reshaping how companies train their employees. Stern and his partners want Mira to be a key player in bringing AR to the masses.

11. Michael Wann, CEO, Mobcrush  (VIDEO) 

Mobcrush wants to make it easy for creators to reach their audiences. But with an increasingly stratified media landscape, it can be difficult for live streamers to pick which platform they’ll use to connect with their fans. That’s why Mobcrush and CEO Michael Wann don’t want it to be a choice.

The Santa Monica-based tech and entertainment company allows users to simultaneously broadcast themselves on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Mobcrush’s own platform. As eSports grows into a multibillion-dollar industry, it’s become especially attractive to gamers looking to reach as many followers as possible.

Mobcrush also wants users to make money while streaming, offering up to $2,500 an hour in sponsorships to live stream. The company has raised $36 million in funding from investors such as KPCB, Evolution Media, Raine Ventures and First Round Capital.

Also Read: Gimlet Media Announces First Horror Series ‘The Horror of Dolores Roach’

Photo by Emily Berl

12. Karina Longworth, podcaster, author and Old Hollywood historian

Karina Longworth has the most modest of reasons for starting a podcast that has earned scores of imitators: “I felt, as someone who listens to podcasts, that there were never enough to listen to,” she said. “I didn’t think anybody would be bothered by my making it.”

No one was. What she started, back in 2014, is “You Must Remember This,” a deeply researched, gloriously resonant investigation of Hollywood’s first century, a mix of the the radio dramas of old and most perceptive documentaries of today. It has examined and often debunked Hollywood legends about the anti-communist blacklist, the Manson murders and Jane Fonda’s activism, taking Mulholland Drive-style turns through the lives of Mia Farrow, Lauren Bacall and all three past versions of “A Star Is Born.”

Longworth spent a prolific decade as a film writer before what she thought would be a small detour into podcasting. But within a year, the popularity of “You Must Remember This” made it a full-time job. The medium is now crowded with soundalike podcasts.

“It didn’t occur to me that there were things you could do and couldn’t do. … I was trying to create a new path and a new way of doing film history,” she said. “I never really needed this advice, because I just did it. But the thing that has been most useful to me was to leave a situation that wasn’t working for me.”

What she envisioned as a cross between “This American Life” and Kenneth Anger’s “Hollywood Babylon” came full circle this year with a season dedicated to exploring the gossip, innuendo and even occasional truth behind the latter, a treasure trove of dark Hollywood lore.

Stories she pulls from past generations — like her account of Fatty Arbuckle’s rape-and-manslaughter trials, almost a century before #MeToo — rhyme eerily with the stories of today. Her new book, “Seduction: Sex, Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes’ Hollywood,” is about a mogul for whom filmmaking and trying to control women went hand in hand.

Sean Burch, Jocelyn Johnson, Tim Molloy, Brian Welk and Trey Williams contributed to this report. 

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Zooey Deschanel and Jessica Alba Shows Headed to New Streaming Channel on Xumo (Exclusive)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Attn:, digital video provider for “entertainment that informs,” is continuing to expand its reach, launching its first-ever OTT streaming channel on Xumo, TheWrap exclusively learned on Thursday.

All of Attn:’s original content, including “Your Food’s Roots with Zooey Deschanel” and “Health Hacks with Jessica Alba,” will immediately be available to stream for free on Xumo (which offers several free channels on Roku). Attn: is also developing exclusive scripted and unscripted shows to run on Xumo by the end of the year, a person with knowledge of the deal told TheWrap.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Xumo on ATTN:’s first OTT launch,” Martha Pierce, ATTN:’s head of Audience and Syndication, said in a statement shared with TheWrap. “Now ATTN:’s fans can stream all of our original content on-demand on their smart TVs or wherever they have Xumo.”

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Irvine, California-based Xumo hits 30 million households in the U.S. via its app, which is featured on Roku and smart TVs from LG, Vizio, Samsung, Panasonic, and Sharp. Attn:’s channel joins more than 100 channels available for streaming on Xumo, including “TMZ,” “Funny or Die,” and “NBC News.”

“We’re excited that XUMO is the first OTT platform to feature some of ATTN:’s most popular series that are not only thought-provoking and informative, but highly entertaining,” Stefan Van Engen, SVP Content Partnerships and Programming at Xumo, said.

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Attn: has emphasized bite-sized content, typically only a few minutes long, since launching in 2014. The outlet had recently announced the second season of Deschanel’s series, which focuses on healthy eating, would be coming back to Facebook Watch.

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How FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal Would Rock Hollywood and Big Media: Winners & Losers

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

It’s looking increasingly likely that new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will succeed with his newly announced plan to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules insuring free and open access to the internet.

But what does this mean for Hollywood and big media companies?

Pai’s proposal — which is expected to be formally approved next month in a party-line vote — would render the FCC powerless to stop internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from slowing down or creating paid “fast lanes” for certain sites.

And that could produce some big winners and losers throughout the industry.

Also Read: Stars Rail Against Net Neutrality Repeal Plan: ‘Corporations Will Control the Entirety of the Internet’

Winner: Big Internet Service Providers

This one is obvious. If Pai’s proposal is accepted on Dec. 14, ISPs would immediately gain more power: the ability to throttle speeds for certain streamers or websites, or to charge their competition more for running content on their networks.

As Chris Smith, head of USC’s Media, Economics, and Entrepreneurship program, told TheWrap, curtailing current FCC regulations would give ISPs “optionality.” Internet giants like Comcast — which holds a stake in Hulu — could also play hardball with streaming competitors like Netflix.

“[ISPs] know they have a big stick, and Netflix knows they have a big stick now,” said Smith. “They can go to the table with Netflix and be a little more cool under pressure, and have negotiations over bandwidth consumption. It gives them leverage.”

Also Read: FCC Announces Vote to Repeal Net Neutrality in December

Loser: Netflix and YouTube 

If ISPs are allowed to jack up the price on certain content providers, this is clearly a black eye for even the most established of streaming heavyweights.

This would be a blow to Netflix or YouTube, albeit a manageable one for the powerhouses. ISPs would have the green light to charge more — an increase that would present Netflix with two undesirable options: eating the cost and putting less money into developing its business, or passing it along to its customers. After raising its prices just months ago, this would be a tough pill for Netflix to swallow (even if it makes Wall Street happy).

YouTube would suffer the same fate. The two sites account for more than 70 percent of peak internet traffic in North America, and ISPs could add a “prime-time” tax to watching Netflix or YouTube during those hours. Still, this would be a risky gamble: most customers look at streaming content and their internet as going hand-in-hand. Why pay for internet — if you have options — if its hindering the primary reason you use it?

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Winner: Yahoo — and other services owned by ISPs 

Don’t call it a comeback. With Yahoo under the Verizon banner, would the telecom giant consider throttling search behemoth Google? Frankly, it’s hard to think of a clearer path for Yahoo to regain relevancy.

But this lingering threat applies to any content or service owned by ISPs; the “nightmare scenario,” Smith said, would be for ISPs to make their content stream faster than their competitors.

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Loser: Upstart streaming companies

For younger streaming services without the financial resources of Netflix or YouTube, any new charges placed on getting access to high-speed streaming could prove crippling — or at least more expensive.

“I’m competing against giants,” Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO of over-the-top streaming startup Xumo, told TheWrap bluntly. “My concern is that, whereas Netflix and others launched with a level playing field in the streaming space, I could be greatly disadvantaged as a new entrant if I’m expected to pay for a high quality streaming experience, for example.”

Revoking net neutrality protections “disadvantages new entrants, it disadvantages startups, it disadvantages the new startups of tomorrow,” he said. “It really entrenches around the incumbents, and that’s really frustrating.”

That might also include Disney, which announced plans in August to cut ties with Netflix and launch its own digital streaming services for movie and TV content as well as for its ESPN sports content.

Though the entertainment giant has deeper pockets than any pure startup, launching its own streaming networks might get even pricier than it had previously bargained.

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Loser: Innovators 

Adding costs could also stifle the drive to come up with new technologies that make users continually turn to the internet in the first place, experts noted.

“Where innovation is concerned, this is a big mistake,” said Smith. “The ISPs have not been innovators like Netflix and these other online digital startups. This kind of rewards the wrong economic actors overall.”

Pai believes his proposal mitigates this concern by forcing ISPs to disclose sites they’re throttling or prioritizing. In his view, it would be economic suicide for a company to charge more to stream Netflix when customers could simply change providers.

However, critics point out that internet is often a duopoly — at best — in many parts of the country. Without more competition in the space, consumers may be at the mercy of their ISP even if they are being transparent about setting different streaming rates for certain content.

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Winner: Studios Aligned With ISPs 

Content that’s already in bed with the biggest internet providers would get a boost. Comcast could prioritize NBC or Universal to its customers. Charter — which bought Time Warner Cable in 2016 — could give a leg-up to its own Lakers broadcast when its up against a national game on ESPN.

AT&T — if its proposed merger with Time Warner makes its way through the Department of Justice gauntlet —  would have a treasure trove of assets to push its customers. HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros. would all be at its disposal.

On the flip side, it could be bleak for studios like Sony, which don’t have these built-in advantages. To get its content in front of the most people, in the most high-end way, studios could be pushed into the arms of ISPs. Further consolidation of content makers and distributors could be on the horizon.

Also Read: Why Net Neutrality Is Important for Online Streaming

Loser: Consumers

The biggest loser of all. Any higher costs from full-speed streaming would ultimately be passed along to the customer.

And many Americans fear the specter of a Portugal-esque future — where customers pay for a “social media” package to use Facebook and Snapchat, and a “streaming” package for Netflix and YouTube.

That may be why a near sweep (98.5 percent!) of the 22 million complaints filed to the FCC opposed changing the current regulation, which have been in place since 2015.

Loser?: Free expression

Many also fear the potential impact on free expression. The FCC’s 2015 ruling held that broadband providers could not block access to “legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.”

By allowing ISPs to restrict or charge a premium for information on their networks, the commission gives them the potential authority to determine what you can see and read based on any rationale they choose — so long as they disclose what they are doing.

Pai feels the opposition is being alarmist, and notes that he’s rolling back “heavy-handed” regulations that have only been in place for two years. “President Clinton got it right in 1996 when he established a free market-based approach to this new thing called the internet, and the internet economy we have is a result of his light-touch regulatory vision,” Pai told NPR this week. 

Also Read: Net Neutrality Starter Pack: 5 Essential Things to Know

“We saw companies like Facebook and Amazon and Google become global powerhouses precisely because we had light-touch rules that apply to this internet,” he said. 

But former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps takes a different view. “There can be no truly open internet without net neutrality,” he said this week. “To believe otherwise is to be captive to special interest power brokers or to an old and discredited ideology that thinks monopoly and not government oversight best serves the nation.”

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