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ESPN, Verizon Settle Skinny Bundle Lawsuit

10 May, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

ESPN and Verizon Communications May 10 announced settlement of litigation regarding the latter’s use of the former’s programming for so-called “skinny bundle” pay-TV channel packages marketed to consumers. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

ESPN, which is owned by The Walt Disney Co., last April filed a lawsuit against Verizon claiming the telecom violated retransmission agreements offering ESPN to FiOS TV subscribers as part of “Custom TV” — a precursor to industry trends marketing smaller pay-TV channel packages.

Verizon offered ESPN as part of a subsidiary sport package, and not part of the original 35-channel package. ESPN, which had just joined Dish Network’s upstart broadband Sling TV service, said the adjunct packaging violated existing agreements to include ESPN with the primary service plan. Verizon said it had the contractual right to slice and dice programming.

Both companies issued feel-good statements.

“We look forward to working with [Verizon] to provide great content to consumers for years to come,” said Sean Breen, SVP of affiliate sales at Disney and ESPN Media Networks.

“ESPN is an important partner of ours,” said Terry Denson, VP of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon. “We look forward to further collaborating with them to deliver customers content across all of our platforms.”

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