While some TV fans might be grateful for all of the different ways in which programming is available in this modern age, it turns out networks don’t always share that level of exuberance. When it comes to Verizon’s newly released FiOS Custom TV service, several networks and corporations are calling foul, including Fox Sports,
FiOS Custom TV was officially launched on April 21 as a way of unbundling larger cable packages, but it had already attracted the ire of Disney-owned ESPN in the days previous. The sports giant’s gripe is that Verizon is breaking contract agreements, which state that ESPN and ESPN2 may not be featured in separate sports packages with the company, among other issues they have. (Both channels are part of the Custom TV sports bundle, which is separate from the basic package.)
Fox Sports’ suits feel the same way, though they’re not quite as forthcoming with their particular disputes. According to Home Media Magazine, they “reject Verizon’s view that it can pursue the new packaging scheme it announced yet still comply with our agreements,” and they plan on continuing to address their concerns with Verizon, choosing not to make those concerns public at this time.
NBC Universal’s argument was similar. In their execs’ eyes, just because technology is changing, that doesn’t mean that the deals that are already set in place are also changing, and Verizon’s Custom TV doesn’t fit in with their existing contract agreements.
Before NBC and Fox got involved, Verizon’s CFO Fran Shammo said in a statement that they fully believe they’re within their contractual rights to offer the channels that they do, somewhat needlessly backing it up by saying people only watch 17 channels on average anyway, so this format helps the customers out. I guess that would be a good defense if the complaint ESPN, Fox and NBC had was that FiOS Custom TV wasn’t doing a good job of giving consumers a serviceable choice of non-bundled TV packages. But it’s not, as the networks are more worried about their own paperwork than anything the customers footing the bills are concerned with.
FiOS Custom TV doesn’t even sound like all that great of a bargain, as it charges $54.99 for around 45 channels, including ABC, AMC, Food Network and several sure-to-be-ignored networks like Jewelry TV, Smile of a Child and more. For an extra $9.99 each, customers can get other bundles, such as the sports pack, a kids pack, a lifestyle pack, etc. Two bundles puts you right at FiOS’ lowest-priced bundle, which includes over 235 channels. So I guess it’s all about what you’re into. And Fox, NBC and ESPN aren’t into this.