ESPN is suing Verizon over the pay-TV operator’s flexible new cable bundles. The sports network is arguing that Verizon’s new cable packages, which don’t include ESPN in their primary offering, are a breach of contract.
Verizon unveiled earlier this month a new set of cable bundles called Custom TV that give subscribers more choice over what channels they pay for. Customers pay for a basic channel of packages that includes broadcast networks and a few cable channels. Bundles of genre-specific channels are offered as $10 add-ons, with ESPN available as part of the sports add-on package.
However, the Disney-owned ESPN, which is the most valuable cable network by a large margin, said last week that its contract with Verizon stipulated that it not be shuttled to an optional sports tier. When the Custom TV offering was unveiled, Verizon executives said they believed the new configurations were in line with existing contracts with networks. The operator is still marketing ESPN and ESPN2 as part of the sports bundle on its website.
ESPN is suing Verizon in the state of New York, seeking injunctive relief and damages. “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,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We simply ask that Verizon abide by the terms of our contracts.”
A Verizon spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.