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Last week, Verizon announced plans to offer its customers a custom television package consisting of a core selection of channels with the option to purchase add-on channel bundles a la Sling TV. If you recall, the core package was to consist of 36 channels although noticeably absent was ESPN, a channel that – along with ESPN 2 and ESPN U – was included as part of the Sports channel pack.
That’s a pairing that simply won’t fly, according to Disney-owned ESPN.
In a statement to Re/code, an ESPN spokesperson noted that media reports about Verizon’s new contemplated bundles describe packages that would not be authorized by existing agreements. Among other issues, the spokesperson said their contracts clearly provide that neither ESPN nor ESPN 2 may be distributed in a separate sports package.
As of writing, Verizon hasn’t issued a response. But what’s interesting here is that ESPN’s statement implies that Verizon never got their permission (and maybe never even ran the idea by them) to build custom plans and / or relegate ESPN and ESPN 2 to a separate sports package.
What’s more, Re/code spoke with a person familiar with another programmer involved in Verizon’s offering that said they hadn’t signed off on the new plan either. This person suggested that Verizon simply thought its agreements allowed them to test out different configurations as part of a limited trial.