ESPN sues Verizon over channel bundling

The journey towards democratised, subscription free access to our favourite TV channels continues to move swiftly in 2015, but it seems the battle to consign cable company and content provider strangleholds to history isn’t quite won yet.

The ESPN sports network in the United States has issued a lawsuit against Verizon, claiming is breaching contracts by offering a ‘skinny bundle’ of channels.

The skinny bundle on Verizon’s Fios TV service allows users to choose packages of channels that can be mixed and matched each month, giving subscribers more flexibility.

ESPN says (via CNET) it is all for allowing sports fans to watch in inovative ways on multiple platforms, but says Verizon’s move goes against an agreement between the two parties

In a statement the company said: ”ESPN is at the forefront of embracing innovative ways to deliver high-quality content and value to consumers on multiple platforms, but that must be done in compliance with our agreements. We simply ask that Verizon abide by the terms of our contracts.”

Meanwhile, Verizon says it is simply listening to its customers and believes it is entitled to offer the ESPN channels in different packages.

“Consumers have spoken loud and clear that they want choice, and the industry should be focused on giving consumers what they want. We are well within our rights under our agreements to offer our customers these choices,” the communcations giant said in a statement

ESPN’s assertion it is committed to giving consumers more choice rings true within the firm’s recent actions. The crown jewel of U.S. sports networks recently committed to the Sling TV proposition, which allows customers to stream their chosen channels over the web.

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The unbundling movement remains very much in its infancy so we can probably expect more of these legal misunderstandings as content producers and providers figure out how the new cord cutting era is going to pan out.