Cable Technology Feature Article
ESPN Bumped from Verizon's Latest FiOS Programming Package
By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer
Imagine a cable package without ESPN (News - Alert). That scenario is exactly what Verizon is offering with its new FiOS (News - Alert) Select HD package. For $49.99 per month, subscribers will receive 145 channels, 30 of which are HD, without any programming from ESPN.
Verizon (News - Alert) will still offer its Prime HD package that does include ESPN for $64.99 per month. The Prime package includes a total of 210 channels, 55 of which are HD.
For years, politicians like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have been lobbying cable companies to allow customers to build their own packages for less money. His ‘a la carte’ vision of cable packages is backed by the Consumers’ Union in much the same way that cable programming is purchased in other countries.
In a 2006 op-ed published on his website, McCain noted that between 2004 and 2006, cable prices had increased at twice the rate of inflation and more than 95 percent since 1995. According to McCain, the Federal Trade Commission had stated that a la carte programming could cut Americans’ cable bills by at least 13 percent.
Verizon’s offer of a package without expensive channels like ESPN seems like an admission that just a few cable channels are pushing prices up for everyone else. According to Richard Mullins of The Tampa Tribune, many view channels like ESPN as the culprits behind more expensive cable packages because viewers find their sports channels to be indispensable.
However, acknowledged Verizon spokesman Bill Kula in a blog post, sports isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. “We understand that many households are on tight budgets, and we want to help make sure you aren't paying for something you think you don't need,” Kula wrote.
In 2011, Liberty Media Corporation’s CEO, Greg Maffei, called the constantly rising cost of ESPN “a tax on every American household.” Verizon’s Select HD package could begin to break the sports giant’s stranglehold on America’s cable experience.
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Edited by Braden Becker