Verizon introduced their latest FiOS TV channel line-up, FiOS Select HD, this week. The most notable feature of this line-up is sports programming, or actually, the lack of any sports programming. FiOS Select HD offers 140+ channels, with 30+ in HD (final count depends on your market). Verizon announced the move in a January 21 blog post.

“But sports is not everyone’s cup of tea.  In fact, we have many customers for whom watching sports is akin to me watching a fashion or dance program (not fun for me at least),” explains Verizon’s Bill Kula regarding the new line-up’s lack of sports programming in a blog post.

An unbundled price for the new channel line-up is $49.99 per month. That compares with $64.99 for the lowest unbundled cost channel line-up that does include sports programming – so $15 per month for your sports. But really, it’s a little more.

Verizon has also instituted additional fees of $2.42 per month to cover the costs of Regional Sports Networks (RSNs), which will take effect later this year. This is a practice that is gaining traction with TV service providers, who are balking at the high cost of sports programming, particularly RSNs, and adding explicit costs to consumer bills. DirecTV also recently added a RSN fee. For both Verizon and DirecTV, customers have to pay the RSN fee, over and above the listed channel line-up costs, whether they want to or not, if they select a package that includes RSN channels.

“We began notifying customers of the new regional sports network fee in bill messages starting in mid December,” a Verizon spokesman told Telecompetitor today in an emailed statement.

These moves illustrate the tricky proposition that is sports programming. Many customers want and enjoy sports programming, while many others have no interest. Finding ways to meet both demands, given the high cost of sports programming, is a challenge. The current sports programming model mandates the widest carriage possible. Service providers are looking for ways to meet those mandates, while also not alienating non-sports interested customers, yet paying for the continual and some would argue, unreasoned escalation of sports programming costs.

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15 thoughts on “Latest Verizon FiOS TV Channel Line-Up Includes No Sports

  1. Verizon has the size and legal muscle to pull this off. My company attempted to do this about three years ago and received a cease and desist and a threat to cut off all of the programming if we tried to do it again.

    For the small operator, sports programming has become a ridiculous percentage of our rights fees. The fact is that our cost for the channels is now more than the $15 retail additive by Verizon.

    Our lack of bargaining power and the inability of NCTC and others to effectively bargain on our collective behalf has caused my company to elect to go to a DirectTv offering with a more certain net revenue stream rather than continue on this losing treadmill.

    1. I completely understand and sympathize. We own a small cable system and made the decision to drop all satellite channels a couple years ago and only offer all the off-air stations we can receive, complete with all their sub-channels, and upgrade our cable modem service to the highest-speed connection we can afford. We left the market to Dish and DirecTV, they can deal with ESPN, etc. Smartest decision we have made in years, haven't lost any customers at all, and more profitable than ever.

  2. I agree with R. We have the same issue. I predict that most small IPTV operators will abandon IPTV within 3 years if we are not allowed to do something similar. Sports is killing this business.

  3. Did they make any research that would show that there are not many sport followers? Or they just judge by themselves and that's why they leave thousands of people without any sport news? I disagree with this change.

    1. You are not the only one who disagrees. Actually, there’s no need in poll or anything. It’s clear that sports are popular. And company’s decision looks really strange in this light.

    2. It's not like there is no other way to receive sports programming if customers want it. Dish and DirecTV come to mind, or cable, and there may be others.

  4. Good for Verizon, for taking a stand on ridiculous sports programming fees. When almost half your customers' Basic Cable bill is due to ESPN, ESPN2 and your regional Fox Sports network programming fees, and those fees experience an automatic 30% rise based on the PREVIOUS year's cost each year, you reach a point where you say enough is enough.

  5. If only the new FIOS Select package really were what the reports say it is, meaning FIOS Prime without the sports, for less $$$. Unfortunately that is not the case. Select does not just eliminate the sports, it also eliminates a lot of other channels, ones that non-sports-fans really watch.
    Come on Verizon–offer what you claim to offer, being FIOS Prime complete except for the sports channels.

    1. Verizon's problem is that Disney/ABC (for the biggest example) refuses to let cable providers offer any of their other channels — except the over-the-air local ABC affiliate — if they don't include ESPN as part of the package. Looking at the FIOS Select lineup, it looks like Cablevision, Fox, and Time-Warner may have similar restrictions regarding some of their channels.

      1. You're exactly right. Each market is different but they might require you to carry every single satellite channel they offer before you can carry the local ABC affiliate. Hearst/Argyle required us to carry Lifetime, Lifetime Women, and Lifetime Movie Network before we could carry our ABC affiliate they own in OKC. MTV Networks won't let you carry just say, Nickelodeon, you have to carry EVERY other MTV-owned channel as well. Alll 9-10 or whatever there are of them. Those and other programmer requirements are the main reason we ditched satellite programming.

        1. I switched from Optimum to FiOS Select HD over the weekend. Giving up Comedy Central, a bunch of Disney channels I'll never watch, TCM and FMC was a small price to pay to know that I'm not paying for either ESPN or Fox News any more!

        2. However, I can't figure out why none of the CSPAN channels are included in the package. I can watch them on-line if I really want to, but sometimes I like to DVR certain committee hearings. For some reason, not all of CSPAN's programming ends up archived on the web site.

  6. Does Fios have Me Tv, Cozi Tv or Antenna Tv. Comcast has these and they show a lot of old shows, much better than Tv land.

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