You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Verizon Launches Customized FiOS TV Package Despite ESPN Objections

NBCU, Fox Sports also claim telco doesn't have rights to offer new genre-based tiers; Verizon says it believes it does

Verizon Communications officially launched FiOS Custom TV, touting unprecedented ability for U.S. consumers to select genre-based channel packs on top of a baseline 35-channel lineup.

But ESPN, for one, says the service violates the terms of the sports programmer’s distribution contract with the telco, because it puts ESPN and ESPN2 on a separately priced tier. (UPDATE: NBCUniversal and Fox Sports on Tuesday also said that Verizon’s new package is not authorized.)

Moreover, FiOS Custom TV — despite Verizon’s marketing claim that you can “pay for what you want and not for what you don’t” — is far from the a la carte idea that customers should get to choose exactly which channels they want to subscribe to. Users must select two optional genre packs on top of the non-optional 35-channel base; those are sports, sports plus, kids, lifestyle, news and info, pop culture and entertainment.

The new Verizon package “would not be authorized by our existing agreements,” ESPN said in a statement. “Among other issues, our contracts clearly provide that neither ESPN nor ESPN2 may be distributed in a separate sports package.”

Verizon insisted that it’s within its rights to offer FiOS Custom TV. “FiOS Custom TV is a product consumers want, and it’s all about consumer choice,” a rep for the telco said. “We believe we are allowed to offer consumers and small businesses this choice and flexibility under our existing contracts.” Verizon cited Nielsen data that U.S. TV viewers watch only an average of 17 channels on a regular basis.

Verizon and Disney/ESPN are in discussions about the issue, according to a source familiar with the situation.

(NBCU said in a statement, “Verizon’s announced ‘Custom TV’ package does not comply with our existing agreement,” while Fox Sports said, “We reject Verizon’s view that it can pursue the new packaging scheme it announced yet still comply with our agreements.” The two programmers’ complaints about the telco’s offering were reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.)

FiOS Custom TV is an evolution of Verizon’s previous “Select HD” entry-level package, which excluded sports networks. Starting at $59.99 for standalone TV and $79.99 for a triple-play bundle, the FiOS Custom TV base package’s 35 channels include all local broadcast networks, as well as CNN, HGTV, AMC, Food Network, Univsion, HSN and QVC.

The seven channel packs, with between 10-17 networks each, are $10 extra per month. Verizon said customers can change their channel packs after 30 days or add one at any time.

The Sports Channel Pack, for example, includes ESPN, Fox Sports, NBCSN and others; the Sports Plus Channel Pack includes regional sports networks and specialty sports programming like NFL Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, NHL Network and Golf Channel. Entertainment includes USA Network, TNT and TBS; News and Info includes Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC; and Kids includes Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network.

Verizon ended the first quarter of 2015 with 5.7 million subscribers, making it the sixth-largest pay-TV distributor in the U.S.

More Biz

  • Tan FranceUnforgettable Gala, Inside, Los Angeles,

    'Queer Eye' Star Tan France to Host Audiobook Audie Awards

    “Queer Eye” resident style expert Tan France is taking on a slightly different project next month as he hosts the Audie Awards, which honors the best releases and achievements in audiobooks over the past 12 months. The ceremony, which takes place on March 4 in New York, is an annual event organized by the Audio [...]

  • Obit Obituary Placeholder

    Shelly Saltman, Former Fox Sports President and Promoter, Dies at 87

    Sheldon “Shelly” Saltman, the sports promoter behind the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs tennis match and Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 87. The original president of Fox Sports, Saltman started his career as a sports announcer before moving to promotions at media companies like the Gillette Cavalcade [...]

  • Arista Records, Mogul Vision Launch Joint

    Arista Records, Mogul Vision Launch Joint Venture

    Arista Records and Smokepurpp/ Lil Mosey manager Josh Marshall today announced the launch of Mogul Vision Music, a new joint venture label focused on “breaking extraordinary talent and building artist careers through innovative A&R, branding and marketing strategy,” according to the announcement. Based in New York with Marshall (pictured above left, with Massey) as its CEO, the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Faces Prison, Career Ruin if He Lied About Attack

    Jussie Smollett is facing prison time and the implosion of his career if it turns out he lied about being the target of a hate crime, legal and public relations experts say. “The best thing that Jussie can do is pray and pray a lot,” said Ronn Torossian, founder of 5W Public Relations. “If he [...]

  • Gerrit Meier Variety Strictly Business Podcast

    Listen: Red Bull Practically Invented Branded Entertainment. What's Next?

    With memorable moves like sponsoring Felix Baumgartner’s jump from outer space in 2012 to achieve the world’s farthest ever-parachute drop, Red Bull has been a pioneering force in branded entertainment. While known best for its line of energy drinks, the beverage maker has eschewed traditional marketing for content that blurred the boundaries between advertising and [...]

  • Martin Bandier to Be Honored at

    Martin Bandier to Be Honored at Songwriters Hall of Fame Ceremony

    Martin Bandier, outgoing chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, will be awarded the Visionary Leadership Award at the 50 th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, June 13 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. According to the announcement, the Visionary Leadership Award “acknowledges a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Board [...]

  • Hong Kong Disneyland Remains in the

    Hong Kong Disneyland Remains in the Red but Reduces Losses

    The Hong Kong Disneyland Resort theme park remained in the red for the fourth straight year, but there are signs of improvement. For the financial year to end-September 2018, HKDL reported $769 million (HK$6 billion) of revenue from 6.7 million visitors, an increase of 8%. Net losses fell from $32 million (HK$291 million) to $6.92 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content