Another step forward for EPIX in its campaign to persuade pay TV distributors to add its suite of premium channels to their line-ups. Per usual, this morning’s release doesn’t disclose the deal terms for AT&T‘s agreement to offer its 5.7M TV customers EPIX, EPIX 2, EPIX 3 and EPIX Drive-In. The package will cost $8 a month following a free preview over the July 25 weekend. EPIX — which is owned by Viacom, Lionsgate, and MGM — trumpets its large library of movies. It says that its subs on AT&T will be able to stream more than 3,000 titles via EPIX.com, its EPIX App, EPIX VOD and live feeds of the channel on Uverse.com and the U-verse apps. AT&T “holds innovation and the consumer experience in the highest regard and we are very pleased to embark on this new relationship,” EPIX CEO Mark Greenberg says.
EPIX, introduced in 2009, has been making steady progress in winning over pay TV companies who initially stiff armed the service. Time Warner Cable picked it up in March, and Bright House agreed to do so in June. It still isn’t carried by Comcast and DirecTV, the biggest cable and satellite companies. But today’s deal with AT&T could change that: The telco plans to buy DirecTV.
Technology, not executive hypersensitivity, accounted for the blackout of last night’s Grammy Awards broadcast on AT&T U-verse systems around Orlando at a potentially controversial moment in the proceedings, the company says. The show went dark just as performers Macklemore & Lewis prepared to sing their song “Same Love,” with Queen Latifah set to use her new authority to officiate at weddings to marry 33 couples. AT&T says that’s when a fiber cut left customers experiencing “a brief disruption of local TV affiliate channels, including CBS.” Technicians made the repairs in about 10 minutes. “We sincerely apologize for the perceived implication of the timing. It definitely was not purposeful,” AT&T says.
Ratings: Longest Grammy Awards In 22 Years On Par With 2013
Griffin, Colbert, ‘Skyfall’ & Fincher Among Grammy Winners
2ND UPDATE, 6:45 PM: Al Jazeera America has released a statement about its lawsuit (read here) against AT&T: “Al Jazeera America made a decision to seek judicial intervention in its dispute with AT&T,” the network said. “Unfortunately AT&T’s decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations. Accordingly, we had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera America’s rights under its agreement with AT&T — and to compel AT&T to do the right thing. Al Jazeera America’s strong hope is to resolve this matter quickly so that AT&T’s customers will have access to our unbiased, fact-based and in depth coverage of the news that is important to Americans.”
UPDATE, 5:45 PM: Al Jazeera has sued AT&T for refusing to carry the Qatar-based company’s new Al Jazeera America as part of its pay TV service, claiming AT&T is violating a deal it had with Al Jazeera’s U.S. division, according to a filing in Delaware Chancery Court. AT&T officials’ decision amounts to a “wrongful termination of an affiliation agreement,” Al Jazeera said in the filing, which accompanied a sealed complaint, Bloomberg reported late this afternoon. Details on the case came from a cover sheet that contained a brief description of the network’s claims, Bloomberg reported. Read More »
This is the latest in a series of what Disney calls “comprehensive long-term” agreements that lock in pay TV carriage terms. Like most of the others, the one today with AT&T U-verse covers televisions, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and internet-enabled televisions. U-verse will offer Disney’s TV Everywhere WATCH streaming services for live and VOD viewing both in and out of the home. The deal covers about 70 services including ESPN 3D, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, the Longhorn Network, Disney Jr and the upcoming news channel from the joint venture matching ABC News and Univision — as well as local signals from WABC, KABC, WLS, KGO, KTRK, WTVD, and KFSN. Disney says that over the last two years it has reached agreements with seven of the 10 largest pay TV distributors. “Our U-verse customers expect access to content when they want it, where they want it, and this renewal gives them more value and access to a variety of live and on demand content in and outside the home,” says AT&T Home Solutions President of Content and Advertising Sales Jeff Weber. The companies didn’t disclose financial terms.
The phone service calls it AT&T U-verse Screen Pack, and it will cost $5 a month. Like with competitors such as Netflix — and, notably, Verizon’s new Redbox Instant — AT&T will offer unlimited, instant playback on multiple devices including tablets and smartphones. No formal word on what content will be available; the company says that it has 1,500 movie titles in the library and will include “more titles added on an ongoing basis.” Also no word on what specific operating systems and platforms will handle the streaming video. Jeff Weber, President of Content and Advertising Sales, says that AT&T “customers have told us they want subscription on demand services and we’re delivering. Screen Pack, along with our On Demand library, gives customers a flexible and more compelling movie experience, where and when they want it.” AT&T says it will offer a free preview of the service until January 13 on U-verse, Uverse.com and on the U-verse app.
The new agreement means that the phone company’s video customers can stream shows on-demand from the Starz-owned channels to which they subscribe. Starz already has a Starz Play and Encore Play deal with Cox but the company’s content is also available to Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, and Verizon FiOS customers from the providers’ online services. AT&T will be the first to also offer Movieplex Play. It’s also the first to offer Starz’ content both through the programmer’s platform as well as AT&T’s own online destination. Apps for the three services are available for Apple devices; Starz has Android apps in the works. There also are user interfaces for Mac and PC computers. But customers can only stream via broadband and Wi-Fi connections — not from wireless 3G and 4G services. Starz is revving up its TV Everywhere platforms following its break with Netflix, which had streamed Starz programming until February. AT&T had 4.3M video customers at the end of September.
Today’s announcement suggests that Viacom is warming to the idea of allowing its shows to appear on TV Everywhere platforms — but still with limits. The deal with AT&T doesn’t extend to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. U-verse video subscribers can watch streamed shows, on-demand, both in and out of home on computers by accessing the TV Everywhere sites that Viacom runs for BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike, and VH1. The companies curiously say that AT&T customers “may” soon be able to access the shows on mobile devices via U-verse.com and U-verse apps. Pay TV execs consider mobile, out-of-home access critical for TV Everywhere to succeed. But Viacom has been tetchy about granting these rights, in part because it’s hard to measure the audience on mobile devices. Last year Viacom sued Time Warner Cable when it provided subscribers with an iPhone app that they could use to watch cable programming at home. They settled the case, enabling Time Warner Cable customers to watch Viacom shows on mobile devices at home. Last month they announced a deal that gives Time Warner Cable customers TV Everywhere rights on computers similar to the ones in the new arrangement with AT&T.
UPDATE, 12:07 PM SUNDAY: AT&T announced that it has reached a “a fair distribution agreement with AMC Networks for AMC, IFC, Sundance and WE tv.” The deal reached today will keep AMC Networks available to some 4 million subscribers on U-verse TV. Details were not disclosed. AMC and Dish remain at an impasse and Dish has pulled AMC programming and substituted other content. Here’s AT&T’s statement:
“It was important to us on behalf of our U-verse TV customers to come to a positive resolution as quickly as possible. We appreciate everyone’s willingness to make that happen, working diligently over the weekend, so customers can continue to enjoy the programming they love on U-verse, the fastest growing TV service in the country,” said Jeff Weber, President of Content and Advertising Sales, AT&T.
In a separate statement, AMC Networks took a jab at Dish:
It’s telling that AMC Networks has historically been able to negotiate fair agreements with television providers that reflect the value of our content. Yet DISH, which dropped our networks as of July 1 never engaged with us in any rate discussions. DISH customers have lost some of their favorite shows because of an unrelated lawsuit which has nothing at all to do with our programming, our ratings or our rates.”
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This weekend could begin a tough stretch for AMC Networks — and for Dish Network customers who enjoy shows such as Breaking Bad. AMC, IFC, and WE will no longer be available to Dish’s 14.1M customers beginning tomorrow night at 11:59 PM ET when the companies’ carriage contract expires. They aren’t talking, so odds are virtually nil that there’ll be a last-minute settlement. And Dish this morning continued its attack on the independent programmer, saying that it will replace AMC’s channels with what it calls “stronger movie and entertainment content.” Dish will offer HDNet Movies on Channel 130, Style on Channel 128, and HDNet (which is evolving into an entertainment and music channel called AXS.TV) on Channel 131.
Related: Dish Network Kicks AMC Networks Channels To Nosebleed Section Of The Dial
AMC says Dish is using its customers as pawns to pressure the cable networks company to drop a $2.5B breach of contract suit involving the VOOM suite of HD channels. But Dish says it’s sticking up for subscribers by resisting a big price hike for the company behind shows including Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and The Killing. “AMC Networks requires us to carry low-rated channels like IFC and WE to access a few popular AMC shows,” says Dish Read More »
UPDATE THURSDAY 6 AM: AMC Networks this morning issued a statement about its carriage dispute with AT&T:
We are disappointed that, just days before the July 15 season premiere of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” we have not yet reached an agreement with AT&T that adequately reflects the popularity of our programming and AMC’s position as a top tier network with acclaimed shows like “The Walking Dead,” basic cable’s highest-rated scripted drama series.
We have been consistently supportive partners of AT&T and are proud that our investment in original programming has provided so much value to all of our distribution partners. We hope AT&T will recognize this and quickly reach a fair agreement with us, so their viewers don’t lose out.
PREVIOUS WEDNESDAY 8 PM: While AMC Networks’ carriage dispute with Dish Network is still raging days before the companies’ current agreement expires June 30, AMC now has another carriage standoff that threatens to take the cable channels off more viewers’ TV sets. AT&T just issued a statement that AMC Networks’ AMC, IFC and We tv may go dark on its U-verse platform when the two sides’ carriage deal expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on June 30. Read More »
For all the talk about cord-cutting in the digital era, movement in that direction is relatively slow, as many viewers switch from cable to satellite or telepone providers rather than drop multichannel service altogether. Nielsen reports that 98% of viewing remained on traditional TV in Q4 2011. Cable lost more than 2.9 million subscribers as viewers switched to telephone or satellite providers. U.S. homes subscribing to cable, satellite or telephone providers for their TV service declined 1.5% or about 1.5 million last year, according to figures Nielsen released this week. Subscribers adding telco (about 1.9 million) or satellite service (roughly 280K) weren’t enough to make up the difference.
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We may see a lot of announcements like this one as Starz’ online distribution agreement with Netflix approaches its February 28 expiration. The new deal with AT&T expands U-verse’s opportunity to stream Starz programming online. The companies didn’t disclose financial terms.
Dallas, TX and Englewood, Colo. – February 13, 2012 – AT&T and Starz Entertainment, LLC, announced today that the companies agreed to a multi-platform, multi-year extension of the Starz-AT&T U-verse® TV affiliation agreement. The extension covers Starz Entertainment’s premium channels, HD, on-demand, and authenticated online services.
AT&T U-verse TV subscribers enjoy currently 19 Starz Entertainment premium channels and feeds; all 14 distinct STARZ and ENCORE channels (including ENCORE ESPAÑOL), West Coast feeds of the flagship STARZ and ENCORE channels, plus INDIEPLEX, RETROPLEX, and the recently launched MOVIEPLEX.
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It will be interesting to see whether Cablevision ever discloses how much it spent on legal bills since 2009 to prevent customers of Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-verse from seeing HD feeds of MSG and MSG+. The regional sports channels are owned by Madison Square Garden, a company that’s controled by the Dolan family which also controls Cablevision. Whatever the cost, it seems to have been for naught: Cablevision today threw in the towel in one of the industry’s longest and most baffling battles after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied the company’s appeal of an FCC order in September requiring MSG to provide the HD feeds to two of its toughest competitors. FiOS customers in the New York area began to receive the sports channels in HD today; U-verse should have them soon. Read More »
One of cable’s most irksome long-running battles isn’t over yet: Cablevision is appealing an FCC order that requires MSG — which the cable operator controls — to offer HD feeds of its two New York regional sports channels to Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse. That announcement followed a statement from Verizon today saying that it had “a home-team win in overtime” and promising to offer HD versions of MSG and MSG+ in December to FiOS TV customers in all service packages except FiOS TV Local. The HD feeds are a big deal to fans of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, the Buffalo Sabres and the New Jersey Devils.
Cablevision’s appeal continues a dispute that began in 2009 – and that seemed to have reached an end last week. The FCC formally approved a decision from its Media Bureau requiring MSG to deal with FiOS and AT&T, and the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals refused Cablevision’s request to stay the FCC order. But Cablevision says it is returning to the court for a stay while it seeks a review of the FCC’s orders. “We continue to believe that an unbiased review of the data can only result in one conclusion: that there has been no competitive harm to the nation’s two largest phone companies,” Cablevision says. “In a highly competitive marketplace like New York, a forced sharing of offerings only deters companies from investing and innovating, which hurts both fair competition and consumers.” Read More »
UPDATE, 11:30 AM: DirecTV shares are up 6.3% after it reported better-than-expected sub growth in 3Q — and a three year extension of its deal with AT&T to sell co-branded TV, broadband, and wired and wireless phone services in 22 states. The agreement, which now runs through March 2015, covers areas where AT&T does not offer its U-verse video service. There’s “no material change” in the terms, DirecTV CEO Mike White told analysts in a conference call. He added that it’s “too soon to say” whether DirecTV will offer more bundles with Verizon broadband services. ”The question will be how customer friendly the (Internet usage) caps are.” White says he talks to everybody about packaging broadband service with DirecTV — and that could include Dish Network if it uses the wireless spectrum it’s amassing to sell a wireless Internet service. DirecTV is “thinking Read More »
UPDATE, 9 PM PT: At midnight ET, The NHL Network went dark on U-verse after AT&T and the network couldn’t reach a new carriage agreement.
PREVIOUS, 8 PM: AT&T informed its customers that the NHL Network could be removed from the U-verse TV lineup tonight. “We have tried to reach a fair, long-term deal with NHL Network in order to continue delivering this channel to U-verse TV U450 and Sports Tier customers,” AT&T said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it appears that as of midnight EST, Oct. 1, NHL Network will no longer be available on U-verse TV because we will no longer have an acceptable agreement to carry the channel.” Fans can still catch the games on their local channels or on NBC and Versus, both of which inked deals this spring for the rights to 100 regular-season games.
The FCC today has ruled that a pair of high-definition regional sports channels operated by Madison Square Garden must be offered to Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-Verse video services. The move comes after the phone companies filed a complaint in July that said MSG hindered competition by refusing to sell the formats in the greater New York region — limiting their availability to Cablevision, which spun off MSG last year. ”By directing Cablevision and MSG to make their high-definition programming available within 30 days, the decision promises to give consumers in New York and New Jersey a choice to obtain the sports programming they want,” Verizon SVP and deputy general counsel Mike Glover said in a statement. Verizon also had to petition the FCC in 2006 to gain access to standard-definition versions of the channels.
Cablevision will appeal the FCC decision. The cable company said in a statement that ”the data clearly demonstrates that there has been no competitive harm to the nation’s two largest phone companies as a result of not having two HD channels they already receive in SD….Instead of competing on the merits in the marketplace, Verizon and AT&T are manipulating federal law to gain an unfair advantage.”
After a three-day blackout of Scripps Networks’ cable networks, including HGTV and Food Network, on AT&T U-Verse, the two sides tonight reached a new distribution agreement. The five Scripps channels affected, HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Cooking Channel and Great American Country have been restored in 2.7 million AT&T U-verse homes. Details of the agreement were not disclosed, though AT&T U-Verse SVP Brian Shay called it a “fair deal.”
The impasse in the negotiations between AT&T U-Verse and Crown Media, the parent company of the Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark Movie Channel, over a new carriage agreement resulted in the two channels gong dark for 2.3 million subscribers at 12:01 AM EDT tonight when the two sides’ previous deal expired. Here are the statements by AT&T and Hallmark Channels:
AT&T: We are very disappointed that Hallmark has refused to provide AT&T and its customers with a fair deal one that is no worse than similarly-sized and smaller providers and refused to adhere to key obligations under our current deal. We offered to extend the current deal while talks continued, and Hallmark rejected that offer. We don’t want customers to lose their programming, but we believe strongly that our customers should not have to pay more than their fair share for Hallmark’s channels, which is exactly what Hallmark is demanding.
AT&T U-verse will replace the two Hallmark channels with a free preview of programming from Starz Kids & Family and Turner Classic Movies. According to Crown, negotiations hit a standstill as of Aug. 26.
Hallmark Channels is willing to re-start negotiations toward the distribution agreement as long as they are fair and in good faith. “I was stunned by the apparent disregard for the facts in AT&T’s recent statement regarding our negotiations,” said Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Hallmark Channels. ”However, if they are really serious, my team and I are ready
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