Verizon launches cord cutter-aimed FiOS Custom TV amid ESPN backlash (Update)

fios van

Verizon has officially launched its FiOS custom TV platform amid backlash from Disney-owned ESPN. The Custom TV platform, a mix-and-match subscription plan that is the first of its kind for cable TV providers, combines 35 basic channels, with genre-focused channel packages. ESPN is Notably missing from the core package, offered instead in the available Sports and Sports Plus package add-ons.

While ESPN argues that licensing contracts with Verizon state that neither ESPN nor ESPN2 may be distributed in a separate sports package (via Recode), Verizon dismissed that claim. “We believe that we are allowed to offer these packages under our existing contracts,” said Verizon CFO Fran Shammo in the media company’s earning’s call today.

Verizon is offering the Custom TV plan at $54.99 per month, which will include two channel packs to choose from (each containing 10 to 17 channels), amounting to about 65 TV channels. The seven different available genre packs are Kids, Pop Culture, Lifestyle, Entertainment, and News & Info, as well as the aforementioned Sports and Sports Plus packages.

Verizon Custom

“This is a product that the consumer wants… it’s all about consumer choice,” said Shammo. To back up this claim, he noted a Nielsen statistic that says viewers watch an average of just 17 channels.

Although Verizon FiOS’ Custom TV option is now live, we imagine that ESPN and Verizon’s contractual arguments are not yet over. Regardless, this new option definitely hints at further cable TV unbundling, and analysts agree, according to a New York Times report. “If Verizon has this ability, it implies that you will shortly see others do it too,” said Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG Research.

With an ever-increasing choice of Web TV offerings from the likes of Playstation Vue, Sling TV, and multiple on-demand streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, the ability to “unbundle” is something that could give Verizon’s new service an edge in the traditional TV genre. First, though, Verizon FiOS Custom TV has to prove itself.

Update by Chris Leo Palermino on 4/21: This piece was updated to reveal that Verizon continued to launch its new Fios service despite backlash from ESPN, as well as adding information about the bundle packages available.

Home Theater

Amazon and Google agree to more support for each other’s streaming services

Amazon and Google have taken a major step toward thawing their relationship: YouTube will be officially supported on all Fire TV devices, and Prime Video will work on all Chromecast and Android TV devices in the coming months.
Deals

Take a gander at the best deals on 4K TVs for April 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Home Theater

The best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

Amazon’s free Spotify competitor is here. Just ask Alexa

Just ask Alexa to play your favorite song. Amazon has launched a free, ad-based music streaming service to compete with Spotify's free tier on its popular Echo devices, aiming to bolster subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited.
Product Review

Now that every speaker has Alexa, don't you want the best? Get the Sonos One

To compete in the smart speaker space, Sonos could have just made a better-sounding Alexa speaker. But the company has a reputation to uphold, and went much further. Our Sonos One Review reveals how Sonos does Alexa better than Amazon.
Deals

Walmart deal drops the price of the 55-inch TCL 4K Roku smart TV to just $338

Was last weekend's Game of Thrones streaming experience lacking? Look no further than this 55-inch TCL TV, which features built-in Roku functionality, and can be had at Walmart for just $338.
Music

YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. What's changed, and should you subscribe?

Thanks to Google, YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. We explain what exactly a YouTube Premium subscription gets you, how much it costs, and break down if it's a good choice for you.
Product Review

It sounds like a Sonos, but the Beam pulls one trick none of its siblings can

Sonos makes really good surround sound speakers for home theaters, but they’re expensive. A cheaper model with great sound would be a win. The Sonos Beam is that speaker, but were too many corners cut to make a more affordable product?
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

Netflix vs. Hulu: Which streaming service is right for you?

Netflix and Hulu are two of the biggest names in streaming entertainment. Our guide will help you decide which streaming service has the content you want and the best value for your limited budget.
Deals

Get some bud-green Master and Dynamic wireless headphones for $50 off this 420

Looking for the best possible audio experience to pair with your favorite herb? Master and Dynamic has announced a special 420 edition of its gorgeous on-ear and over-ear headphones, which will be available for $50 off this 4/20.