FiOS to pull the plug on Funimation and Bridges TV

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) plans to drop anime channel Funimation and Bridges TV from its FiOS TV lineup on March 15, according to a notification it sent to subscribers on Wednesday.

Verizon said in the notice to subscribers that it plans to drop Bridges TV and Funimation "due to very low viewership and the continued effort of Verizon to offer our customers the most popular channels while keeping our rates reasonable."

Bridges TV describes itself on its website as "the first channel of its kind to offer a broad array of lifestyle programming that aims to foster a greater understanding between the West and MESA (Middle Eastern/South Asian) religions, its cultures, and diverse populations." Its schedule today includes repeats of Beverly Hillbillies, a cooking show and a documentary titled, "When the World Spoke Arabic."

Losing Verizon carriage is a setback for Funimation and Bridges TV, with the telco counting 4.2 million FiOS TV subscribers at the end of 2011.

While Funimation and Bridges TV aren't yet rated by Nielsen, Verizon has the capability to collect anonymous viewing data from set-tops in subscriber homes that it can use to determine how popular a network is. The telco also offers a "What's Hot" feature on its interactive program guide which displays the top 16 programs subscribers in local markets are viewing in real time.

Verizon hasn't said whether it will add new networks to the channels occupied by Bridges TV (channel 278) and Funimation (channel 262). "We try to maintain all services offered, but sometimes changes need to be made. We always have plans to launch new channels, and you'll certainly see additions to the lineup in the coming months," Verizon spokeswoman Heather Willner told FierceCable Thursday. 

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