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Fubo pulls remaining Discovery channels amid contract dispute with WBD

The channels were offered on Fubo through a carriage deal that pre-dated WarnerMedia's merger with Discovery Networks.

The channels were offered on Fubo through a carriage deal that pre-dated WarnerMedia's merger with Discovery Networks.

The Warner Bros. Studios logo is seen on a building along Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles, California on May 28, 2007. (Photo: Flickr user abgpt/Creative Commons)

Streaming cable-like service Fubo has dropped Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and other lifestyle and entertainment networks owned by Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) as the two sides remain locked in battle over fees and other matters.

The move comes more than three years after WarnerMedia channels like TBS, TNT and CNN were pulled from the service, leaving Fubo subscribers without NBA, MLB and NHL games aired on TNT Sports.

At the time, the decision to drop WarnerMedia channels was made in order to keep costs low for Fubo subscribers as the pay television service pursued a deal with the Walt Disney Company for its slate of ESPN sports channels. Two years later, AT&T spun WarnerMedia off into a separate company, one that immediately merged with Discovery Networks, forming the present-day WBD.

Fubo continued to offer the Discovery half of the portfolio under a pre-existing carriage agreement, one that lapsed on Tuesday. In a statement, Fubo executives said the company wanted to renew its carriage deal with WBD for the Discovery channels while also bringing WBD’s sports-inclusive channels to the service, an offer that WBD apparently rejected.

“Fubo offered Warner Bros Discovery market rates for its content and, despite Fubo’s efforts to negotiate in good faith, Warner Bros Discovery did not provide any counteroffer, and insisted on continuing to offer us above-market rates for its content,” executives for the streaming service said in a statement.

“Fubo views Warner Bros Discovery’s refusal to engage in good faith negotiations as another example of its abuse of massive market power that ultimately limits consumer choice,” the executives continued.

Fubo is currently suing WBD, Disney and Fox over the formation of a streaming-focused joint venture that is developing a sports-inclusive streaming service — one that could challenge Fubo’s own when it launches later this year.

Fubo is currently suing WBD, Disney and Fox in federal court on antitrust grounds, arguing that the programmers are playing favorites with their forthcoming streaming service by allowing it to carry sports-inclusive channels without general entertainment or news networks like CNN, Fox News, FX or the Discovery Channel.

The arrangement stands in contrast to how the programmers offer their channels to pay television services like Fubo: Typically, cable, satellite and streaming cable-like services are required to carry low-rated and less-desired entertainment and news channels as a condition of offering subscribers sports channels. Those programming bundles tend to drive up the cost of pay TV subscriptions, and have been a primary reason for consumers ditching cable and satellite services for cheaper streaming offerings.

“It is always Fubo’s mission to offer a leading package of premium sports, news and entertainment content while also providing value and keeping costs as low as possible for consumers,” Fubo said on Tuesday.

“Warner Bros Discovery has also denied our customers the choice of subscribing to their Turner sports content separately from Discovery content through a more affordable skinny sports bundle. Yet Warner Bros Discovery has announced that it plans to make this must-have content available in its forthcoming sports streaming joint venture with [Disney] and [Fox],” Fubo complained.

Fubo said the remaining Discovery channels were dropped Tuesday around 5 p.m. Eastern Time. It is not clear if both sides are continuing to hold discussions over a possible return of those channels and others owned by WBD.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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