Verizon Revamps Controversial Custom TV

Verizon has reconfigured its controversial Custom TV package -- which lets consumers pick groups of TV networks/channels they want -- to resemble a more traditional pay TV package.

Verizon’s move in April 2015 drew TV network complaints and a lawsuit from ESPN, citing a breach of contract -- essentially putting the sports service at an extra-pay package tier.

TV sports networks have been the subject of criticism by public TV groups as the reason that big pay TV monthly packages have seen rising costs.

Verizon now says consumers have two options: “Custom TV -- Essentials” is a package with over 190 channels, including broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. It also includes Discovery Channel, Lifetime, Fox News and AMC. But it has no sports offerings.



The second package -- "Custom TV: Sports & More” -- has more than 160 channels, including ESPN and regional sports, plus non-sports channels such as the TNT, CNBC and Cartoon Network.

Last month, Verizon's CFO Fran Shammo said in the company’s quarterly financial results call "we will refresh [Custom TV] here in the short term to be in compliance with the contractual arrangements.”

New Custom TV packages now start at $69.99, which includes FiOS Internet and digital voice services and three genre-specific add-on packages with movie, family and global sports channels for $6 each.

The initial Custom TV package, which launched a year ago, started at $55 a month for 36 fixed basic channels and two genre-based channel packs -- a choice of seven for $10 each. It also included Verizon’s FiOS broadband service.

Along with ESPN's lawsuit of Verizon last year, 21st Century Fox and NBC Universal also said Custom TV violated contracts to carry their networks.

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