A piece from noted cable bundle and Disney critic Rich Greenfield and other analysts at Greenfield’s LightShed Partners Tuesday argued for multichannel video providers (MVPDs) to stop paying ESPN and other sports networks’ per-subscriber fees with lessened sports events available thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with even a URL of “If networks are not paying for sports, why are consumers? MVPDs must use force majeure. ” That piece drew some skepticism, especially as most of it was clear lobbying for MVPDs to take that tactic, but it also included a line with some possible reporting, “We believe multiple MVPDs informed ESPN that affiliate fees should not be paid starting in April 2020 because sports content is not being delivered as specified in their affiliation agreements. ” And now, Josh Kosman of The New York Post has named Dish as a MVPD trying this approach:
Dish Network, the nation’s fourth largest TV provider, wants to wiggle out of the $80 million to $100 million fees it’s supposed to pay ESPN for April broadcasting rights, one source said. The fees are due at the end of the month and Dish has told ESPN that it plans to use that money instead to lower the monthly bills of its roughly 12 million subscribers, the source added.
“Charlie Ergen is trying to get out of the ESPN contract by claiming force majeure,” a second source told The Post, referring to a contract clause that frees the parties from obligations due to an extraordinary event.
Disney’s ESPN has rebuffed the request, the second source said, but it’s unclear whether it will be able to enforce the payment.
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