After we reported last week that Verizon had officially launched its FiOS custom TV platform with ESPN missing from the core package, it was only a matter of time before the Worldwide Leader in Sports got the lawyers involved.
ESPN has decided to take legal action against Verizon over an alleged breach of contract. “Among other issues, our contracts clearly provide that neither ESPN nor ESPN2 may be distributed in a separate sports package,” the company said in a statement. “ESPN is at the forefront of embracing innovative ways to deliver high-quality content and value to consumers on multiple platforms, but that must be done in compliance with our agreements. We simply ask that Verizon abide by the terms of our contracts.”
Verizon wants to add both ESPN channels as part of a $10 sports pack that customers will be able to add to their existing subscription. But since Disney, who owns ESPN, doesn’t want to unbundle the sports giant from other channels like ABC, History, and A&E, they’re going to let the lawyers do the talking. They also have backup from Fox Sports and NBC, who’ve stated that they were unhappy with Verizon’s plans for allowing viewers to choose what channels they want based on what they actually watch.
As for Verizon’s stance, Verizon CFO Francis Shammo had this to say on company’s earnings call, “It’s all about consumer choice. I mean, if you look at the TV bundles today, most people only on average watch 17 channels. So this a way to give consumers what they want on a choice basis.”
If you’re still interested in the custom FiOS TV plan, it’s going to run you $54.99 a month, and will include two channel packs to choose from. Customers can mix and match packs from seven different genres, including Kids, Pop Culture, Lifestyle, Entertainment, and News & Info, as well as Sports and Sports Plus. Each pack will have 10 to 17 channels.