Verizon (NYSE: VZ) said it will soon begin charging FiOS TV subscribers a $2.42 monthly surcharge to help it cover the costs of regional sports networks such as Time Warner Cable's (NYSE: TWC) new SportsNet channel in Los Angeles.
But the telco is also giving FiOS TV subscribers the option of ordering HD programming packages that don't include national sports networks such as ESPN and regional sports networks. Earlier this week, it unveiled a $49.99 monthly FiOS TV Select HD package that includes top general entertainment and niche cable networks ranging from TNT to TLC but excludes ESPN and other sports networks. That's more than $17 less than its FiOS TV Prime HD package, which will cost $67.41 monthly, including the regional sports surcharge.
DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) began adding a regional sports network surcharge to subscriber bills in New York and Los Angeles in December. Major cable MSOs are also beginning to offer subscribers sports-free programming packages, including Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA) MyTV Choice, Time Warner Cable's TV Essentials and Cox's TV Economy package.
Verizon Director of Media Relations Bill Kula announced the FiOS TV Select HD package earlier this week in a blog post. "[S]ports is not everyone's cup of tea. In fact, we have many customers for whom watching sports is akin to me watching a fashion or dance program (not fun for me at least)," Kula wrote.
The $2.42 monthly regional sports network surcharge will be applied to the bills of new FiOS subscribers in February, and subscribers whose contracts have expired will also see the surcharge, Verizon spokeswoman Heather Wilner told FierceCable on Friday. "Those customers in a contract will not be impacted until they make a change to their existing package or the time comes to transition to a new contract," she added.
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