Discovery Threatens To Pull Their Channels From Sky Platform As Carriage Negotiations Break Down

Category : News, UK News
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In an almost unprecedented move, Discovery Networks UK & Ireland let rip tonight in a scathing press release which revealed that negotiations with Sky have broken down and the two parties have failed to reach a new carriage agreement for their portfolio of channels.

As a result of that, Discovery has stated that unless a new agreement is reached shortly, they will pull all their channels from the Sky platform and NOW TV. There are no changes to BT and Virgin Media customers with whom Discovery has separate long-term agreements in place. What caused the negotiations to break down? The key issues seem to be entirely financial.

Discovery’s position is that as an “independent broadcaster”, they believe Sky is not offering a “fair price” for their channels. “Sky is using what we consider to be its dominant market position to further its own commercial interest over those of viewers and independent broadcasters”, said Susanna Dinnage, Managing Director, Discovery Networks UK and Ireland. Specifically, Discovery says they are paid less now than they were ten years ago, despite the cost of a Sky subscription increasing and the fact that Discovery has increased its share of viewing on the Sky platform by more than 20% in that same time period.

“Somebody has to stand up for consumers, because consumers believe they are paying for choice and diversity – they deserve better. Discovery is prepared to take that stand. Pay television needs to be about more than just films and football. The consumer can’t be expected to fund all of Sky’s investments and get less and less choice in return. We are also concerned that with the recently announced Fox transaction, Sky’s market strength and incentive to disadvantage independent TV content providers will only increase. Dinnage added. “All we ask is that Sky recognise the value we bring to customers and remunerate us fairly so we can continue creating content that inspires and entertains the world,” continued Susanna Dinnage.

Unsurprisingly, Sky has a different take on the situation. A spokesperson for the satcaster told TVWise that Discovery’s price expectations were problematic. “Despite our best efforts to reach a sensible agreement, we, like many other platforms and broadcasters across Europe, have found the price expectations for the Discovery portfolio to be completely unrealistic”, the Sky spokesperson said. “Discovery’s portfolio of channels includes many which are linear-only where viewing is falling.”

“Sky has a strong track record of understanding the value of the content we acquire on behalf of our customers, and as a result we’ve taken the decision not to renew this contract on the terms offered. We have been overpaying Discovery for years and are not going to anymore. We will now move to redeploy the same amount of money into content we know our customers value. Sky will continue to offer a huge range of content, from award winning documentaries to thrilling entertainment, with thousands of hours available to watch whenever and wherever our customers choose.”

Discovery Networks UK & Ireland operates such channel brands as Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Eurosport and Animal Planet here in the UK. While losing carriage on Sky would undoubtedly be a blow to the company, it is something they seem ready to accept over the terms currently on the table (could that billion pound Olympics deal be a factor?). Discovery’s UK channels have been increasing their investment in commissions in recent years and while not a major player, TLC UK has been relatively active when it comes to U.S. scripted acquisitions. The channel has aired such U.S. dramas as MistressesDevious Maids and NBC medical drama Heartbeat.

  • Popeye13

    I had to laugh at how Sky managed to turn their statement into a plug for Sky Sports! Are they for real or just trolling?
    I applaud Discovery for this move, its about time Sky were put in their place, they’ve had it way too good for way too long on terms that suited them and them alone!
    Discovery turning the tables on them i hope is the first of many broadcasters to do it and make Sky realise they don’t get to have their cake and eat it!

    • Yeah that was cute of them and you’ll notice that section of their statement is missing from my write up. You can call it trolling, but it was a clear way of saying “don’t worry about losing Eurosport because we’ll have all of this!”

      As for Discovery. I was a little floored when I saw the press release come in at a little after 6:30pm. As far as media strategies go, this is on the high risk side of things.

      • Popeye13

        Yeah, i saw it in part of what you tweeted, and i had to do a double take, like, how does Sky Sports have anything to do with Discovery channels or even Eurosport, when ES has some good stuff Sky doesn’t.
        Both sides are playing with fire i agree, but i think this will (I hope) expose Sky for wanting it all on their terms. Discovery taking this stand, is brave and i applaud them for it.
        1-2-3-4, i declare a media war indeed! (I liked that, well done sir)

  • Shane Hogarth

    I like Sky….but like Discovery more. I will be switching provider as soon as this is confirmed to be happening. Not interested in sport or movies, I guess going by sky’s thinking I am in a minority. I was just about to upgrade to SkyQ too, that’s now on hold.

  • Veronica yeoman

    What makes me mad is they paid 83% more this year than last year for rights to show premier league football but won’t pay for educational programs etc it’s sickening if I want to watch a man run around after a round thing I would throw a malteaser on the floor for my hubby !
    Would rather have discovery channel than bloody football

  • Dave Smit

    I hate football and I do like the the discovery channels and which them on a daily basis ,sky has no clue what there customers want there is no value in sky TV just repeated programs on a daily basis and when you pay over £100 for a service you ment to get then sky is the worst , not to mention there customer service ,don’t worry I would not but they are rubbish as well. Come on virgin expand to the smaller towns.

    • Bryan

      Sky has over 300 box sets and over 1100 movies on demand some of the programmes are repeated but there is so many other options it’s not sky’s fault there losing the documentary channels they both could not agree on deal sky is partnership with 21st century fox now so its going to bigger and better things there is still many documentary programmes and lot of history programmes going to be displayed just on other channels so not to worry

  • Bill Simmons

    If Sky lose Eurosport I will sign up for the Eurosport app as I only watch the Speedway and the cycling

  • FURIONSTORMRAGE

    Guess sky will lose a few thousand customers to Virgin then.Thank f#(k Virgin have their own deal. If they lost Discovery channels they wouldn’t get another penny from me. Sky will pay out anything for sport but not documentaries about real life around the world?

  • Kaz Sanderson

    My subscription ti sky will be cancelled if this goes ahead…these are my fav channels and will migrate ti virgin…should be ashamed of yourselves sky !!!!

  • paulwarrick3

    I’m done with SKY from this point onward’s, subscriptions go up constantly along with phone and broadband prices too. I love the Discovery network programs, they are the real reason I have SKY so now I will be searching elsewhere. I have been with SKY for decades but enough is enough. They will lose £120 pcm from me alone and I suspect many more will feel the same. No matter who is wrong or right on this SKY are flat track bullies who will be outbid by BT and others until nothing is left to fight over. Films available everywhere now, sport too, so just why do we stay with this company, for me it was just laziness to look around. Mind made up, Bye Sky

    • Paul Dunny

      Absolutely agree, this is the last straw for me too.
      I have been a Sky customer for 15 years when the cost of the same package I have now has doubled in price, the loss of champions league football, the continued dilution of sport and now the loss of Eurosport is the final nail for me.
      Pure greed and total disregard for long term customers. Goodbye sky, you’ve finally eaten yourself.

  • Peter Cane

    Just shows what a money grabbing lot sky are. All they want is money for Football, what rubbish.