Discovery threatens to pull channels, including Eurosport, from Sky’s platform

Original Article – January 25th at 20:00 – Discovery Networks portfolio of channels, including the Eurosport arm, is set to disappear from Sky’s UK platform next week if a new carriage deal is not reached. As the current agreement only runs until January 31st, Discovery are free to pull their channels from Sky any time from February 1st onwards.

In a press release issued tonight, Discovery said that Sky’s strategy is “limiting customer choice and hurting independent broadcasters.” The dispute for Discovery is that Sky are paying Discovery less than what they were ten years ago, despite Sky’s customers paying progressively more for watching their content, as this website has demonstrated.

Susanna Dinnage, the Managing Director for Discovery Networks UK and Ireland, said: “We are proud to be an independent network of channels that works hard to bring real-world first class channels and programmes to viewers in the UK for nearly 30 years, offering quality and variety to pay television. We believe 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. The vitality of independent broadcasters like Discovery and plurality in TV is under threat.”

If the Eurosport channels are pulled from Sky, it means that Sky viewers in the UK will not have access to the British and World Superbikes, as well as the World Touring Car Championship. Longer term, it means that a large proportion of viewers may not have access to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Quest TV is also affected. As noted earlier this month, Discovery Communications has a working relationship with John Malone’s Liberty Global. Malone’s portfolio includes Liberty Media, which of course will soon be renamed the Formula One Group.

This will be one to watch closely in the forthcoming days. My suspicion is that this will be resolved quickly, but there is a possibility that will not happen. This scenario has happened before; readers may remember when Sky1 and a host of other Sky channels were removed from the Virgin Media platform for 18 months is a similar carriage dispute.

Update on January 25th at 20:35 – ITV News’ Consumer Editor Chris Choi says that Sky will be dropping Discovery’s portfolio from next Tuesday.

Update on January 25th at 21:30 – Sky’s statement, via the Telegraph website: “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. Discovery’s portfolio of channels includes many which are linear-only where viewing is falling.”

The statement continued, “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.”

Update on January 26th at 20:30 – No further update beyond what was reported yesterday, with a “wait and see” approach being taken by stakeholders in the British Superbikes series. A #KeepDiscovery campaign is in full flow on social media, bike stars and pundits such as former MotoGP commentator for Eurosport Toby Moody and current British Superbikes presenter Matt Roberts getting behind the cause.

I should note that the issue does not just affect the UK: Discovery’s deal with Sky affects Germany as well, so there are wider ramifications for both corporations if the issue is not resolved.

Update on January 27th at 21:15 – Follow-up story now online here.

25 thoughts on “Discovery threatens to pull channels, including Eurosport, from Sky’s platform

  1. Personally I dropped sky years ago never found it worth the money. One to think about Eurosport player UK is only £20 for a 12 month subscription. Down from £60. Ends 31st January. Good deal for BSB WSBK. Le Tour etc

    1. and WTCC , F3.5V8, full season of WEC etc. Could this be the first round in the battle to get F1 on a OTT format? Would have to believe/hope that Liberty would not be happy with SKY having exclusives in so many regions. £19.99p for the whole year is a really agressive price move. Will SKY respond? F1 in a solo pack.

  2. Interesting. I’m probably in the minority for which this might mean cancelling my 10 year old sky subscription. As a pro cycling and motor racing nut I’d loose out on a lot of what I pay for against which I love cricket so sky is a fairly big deal at the moment.

    Anyone know what sky currently pay for those channels and what quest are looking for? These disputes are fairly regular in the states but sky are in a strangely dominent position.

  3. I hope BT buy Eurosport’s channels
    We can then have World Superbikes British Superbike AND MotoGP all on one provider. Go on BT do it!

    1. Eurosport is already on BT? Do you mean buy outright as that’s unlikely why would Discovery give up the Olympics or why would it sell on the host for it’s acquired rights.

    2. Hi TC. Yes BT are covering Eurosport’s they have signed a long term contract, I got this confirmed yesterday 29th January when I swapped to BT and cancelled my 20 year subscription to SKY.

      I did it come on everyone who enjoys Eurosport swap today.don’t wait for Sky to pussyfoot around.

  4. Sky are quite simply a bunch of greed-ridden nasty bastards…I sincerely hope all the directors of same suffer horribly….

  5. What motorsport on eurosport, they have Le mans but that is it?
    They have some snooker and tennis but weirdly that is on bbc and itv at the same time fta.
    Expect a lot more motorsport will be moving to the new motors tv motorsport brand anyway.
    People mention the olympics, but the bbc will still be carrying it fta.
    As for the discovery channels, compared to what they were a decade ago, their channels are just all reality show garbage now.
    BT caused all this when they started bidding for football rights and just upping the prices, I blame them and hate them for it. I watched some of their football coverage the other day and it was poor to say the least.

    1. BBC by law can show that they like as the olympics is a category A Sport meaning it has “Full Live Coverage Protected” (can be broadcast on pay-tv but full live coverage must be available FTA, said by ofcom.) The only thing that maybe restricted is the amount of red button streams, however it could still be argued that the red button is a FTA channel.

  6. Presumably all the Discovery Group channels (including Eurosport) will continue to be available via Virgin Media so Sky will actually be the biggest loosers from this stand-off. 😀

  7. I have sky purely for the British and world Superbike championship races. If it’s not on I will be cancelling my sky subscription forthwith.

  8. Sky are greedy,and they will definitely be cutting their nose off to spite their face with this blinkered approach. As a tennis fan,Eurosport will be a great loss as will the discovery channels, I for one,will be contacting sky asking for reduction in my monthly subscription and why not, after all I will no longer be receiving the package I am paying for, I hope everyone else does likewise.

  9. If the argument is resolved I would expect that Sky will increase the package price. They aren’t exactly renowned for giving the customer a fair deal and are starting to price themselves out of consideration. Looks like it’s going to be Freeview or Freesat in the future.

  10. I have been a Sky subscriber for nearly 20 years on many occasions, I have considered leaving many times because of the high subscription charges which now seem to go up to often now, as an OAP Paying over £60 a month is disgusting but do enjoy my Motorcycle racing so I let it ride even when the motogp was taken away a few years ago.

    But this latest news from Sky dropping Eurosport is the final straw and made me decide enough was enough, yesterday I swapped to BT for TV, Phone and broadband so now I can enjoy all three major events, I hope loads of other Bike enthusiasts do the same and stuff Sky’s ever increasing bank balance, they’ve become to greedy and domineering.

  11. After nearly 20 years too with Sky so if Sky lets Discovery go I am off too. A lot of sports fans ie; motorcycle racing and Rugby fans are taking the loss of most Rugby matches and motor racing to BT very serious and the advice I give is pay BT for their service and to hell with SKY!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. So it all stayed as it was.
    Discovery were just trying it on.They knew all along they needed to stay on the Sky platform its where 685 of their income in Europe comes from.
    From what the press are saying, they are trying to get some of that billion they wasted on the Olympics. Apparently BT are their next target, hahaha!

    Sky boss Stephen van Rooyen:
    We are pleased that we will continue to carry the Discovery and Eurosport channels on Sky.
    The deal has been concluded on the right terms after Discovery accepted the proposal we gave them over a week ago. This is a good outcome for all Sky customers.
    Discovery spokesperson:
    The deal we reached with Sky is meaningfully better than our former agreement and their proposal. Furthermore, our new arrangement enables us to control our destiny in more ways, with even more opportunities to invest and launch channels and consumer services.

  13. So discovery will be staying with Sky well I couldn’t care less Yes I swapped to BT after 20 years but Sky are still the losers as they will not be getting my money, and I gave gained not only the BSB and WSB but now will be able to watch the MotoGP on BT and get this I am saving nearly £12 a month by doing so. One up to me I think.

  14. Just received an e-mail from Sky with the new increase in charges going up £4.09 a month Broadband and Line rental, now your going to pay for keeping Discovery with inflated charges glad I left Sky.

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