Verizon has entered a long-term agreement to carry programming from Disney and ESPN Media Networks (DEMN) Group.
Other network operators (Dish Network and Time Warner Cable recently among them) have had their problems striking carriage agreements with Disney and its satellite companies. The entire industry laments the hardball tactics of ESPN, which has extracted by far the highest fees for its content and also insists that its broadcast partners carry not just one ESPN channel, but several.
If there was a difference between Disney's negotiations with Verizon and most other operators, it may be that Disney was attracted by the option to collaborate with Verizon on pushing video onto new platforms, including broadband wireless.
Verizon pointedly noted that its agreement with Disney is wide-ranging, including future access to new services, including ESPN Goal Line, ESPN 3-D, Disney Junior, mobile programming and live online streaming of several ESPN networks.
David Preschlack, executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing at DEMN, said: "This new agreement represents the ever-evolving landscape of the media industry. Gone are the days of linear channel distribution only – we are tasked with helping our affiliates grow their businesses on multiple platforms, and this deal reflects that. With new broadband and on-demand services, Verizon FiOS TV subscribers will have better access than ever to our vast array of content."
The new services included in the agreement are:
- ESPN Goal Line, an NCAA football highlight channel, available to FiOS TV customers as of Oct. 9, at no additional cost for customers who subscribe to FiOS TV's Extreme HD or
- Ultimate HD packages. (Not available in Washington, D.C., metro area and Harrisburg, Pa., "due to local affiliate exclusivity agreements").
- A similar service, called ESPN Buzzer Beater, will be available for the college basketball season.
- ESPN 3-D, scheduled to launch for Verizon FiOS TV subscribers in 2011.
- New authenticated services, which will give Verizon's FiOS TV customers the opportunity to watch ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater live online on their PC or on Internet devices like tablets.
- Disney Junior, the recently announced, 24-hour basic channel for preschool-age children, available to Verizon FiOS TV customers upon its debut in 2012.
- Signature programming from Disney XD and ABC Family is expected to be available on Verizon Wireless' V Cast Video later this year.