ESPN files suit over Verizon's Custom TV skinny package

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 28 April 2015

ESPN has filed a lawsuit against Verizon over the pay-TV provider's Custom TV skinny TV offering, alleging that the launch is a breach of contract.

espn2"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 programmer said in a statement. "We simply ask that Verizon abide by the terms of our contracts."

The suit, filed in the New York Supreme Court, brings a simmering disagreement to a legal head. Custom TV allows consumers to take a core package of 35 basic cable and broadcast channels for $54.99, then choose between two of seven add-on packages of themed networks, including two sports packages, kids, lifestyle etc. Critically, the scheme breaks up Disney's ABC and ESPN channels in the bundle.

Disney and FOX have both said they haven't agreed to the strategy, and that the network unbundling violates the distribution contracts they have in place with the telco. Following the grousing, Twenty-First Century Fox had joined Disney in refusing to air ads for Verizon's new service in some markets.

Verizon however said that under its programming agreements, it's allowed to create the product.

"Consumers have spoken loud and clear that they want choice, and the industry should be focused on giving consumers what they want," a Verizon spokesperson told Variety. "We are well within our rights under our agreements to offer our customers these choices."