Verizon drops AT&T SportsNet channel in Pittsburgh

Why? You guessed it: Money.
The logo of Verizon Wireless. (Graphic: The Desk)

Verizon Fios customers will have to look elsewhere for their fill of Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates coverage.

This week, the pay TV operator announced it was dropping AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh after its contract with its rival ended on September 30.

“When content deals expire, we have to negotiate with content providers to be able to continue to carry their channels,” a Verizion Fios spokesperson said in a statement. “As we have been unable to reach a reasonable agreement with AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, we will be temporarily unable to provide their programming after that date.”

Like similar contractual disputes that result in dropped channels, this one centers over the cost Verizon Fios is being asked to pay for the right to carry the network. Verizon says AT&T is asking for more money to carry the channel, which is typically the case in carriage disputes.

One interesting twist: Verizon has called out AT&T for not being equitable when it comes to setting “fair market rates” with respect to other distributors, including two platforms that AT&T owns — satellite service DirecTV and IP-based AT&T TV.

“AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh is unwilling to provide a guarantee to fair market rates with respect to other distributors, including the ones they own,” the spokesperson said.

The move could affect fans of Pittsburgh Penguins hockey games — AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh has the exclusive local broadcast rights to most home and away games that aren’t carried on NHL Network or NBC Sports — and a lengthy dispute could have fans switching services when hockey season starts up later this year or early next year.

The channel is still available on Comcast’s XFinity cable service and satellite services DirecTV and Dish Network.

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