Verizon, laudably and because unlike Comcast and Time Warner it doesn’t have conflicting content interests, is offering new custom cable packages which allow you to basically create leaner bundles without all the channels you don’t watch. [You can’t go channel-by-channel, but you can bundle similar networks together at a much more granular level than you had previously been able to.] But the Worldwide Leader is suing Verizon… because ESPN and regional sports networks generate a non-insignificant portion of their revenue from cable subscribers who pay their monthly fee but don’t want their channels. From the LA Times:
Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN quickly objected to the move, saying that its programming agreement with Verizon forbids the telecommunications giant from offering ESPN as part of a specialized sports tier.
Disney also is objecting to the positioning of its ABC Family and Disney Channels.
Disney’s reaction foreshadows a potentially high-profile struggle between media companies and pay-TV distributors over so-called skinny programming packages.
Media companies want to protect their most lucrative source of revenue: cable programming fees.
Just fighting the inevitable, Disney-ABC-ESPN is. This sort of a la cart bundle is coming one way or another – through streaming or traditional cable – and though ESPN has somewhat embraced the movement, fighting it in court seems like a waste of energy that should be put into figuring out how to continue to be profitable once virtually every cable subscribe in the country isn’t forced into paying for their networks. The decision here will set a near-term precedent, but change is coming regardless.