Verizon’s FiOS TV dropped Outdoor Channel from its lineup Thursday morning, joining sister network Sportsman Channel and the Weather Channel among networks recently pared from the telco TV provider’s service.
In a statement to subscribers, Verizon said: "We are committed to providing our customers with the best TV experience while keeping our prices low. Each year, the cost of content increases substantially, and in order to prevent those costs from being reflected on your bill, it is sometimes necessary to remove channels from our lineup. We have decided not to renew our contract for the Outdoor Channel and have discontinued broadcasting it. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause."
Outdoor Channel was available on FiOS TV’s $11.99 per month Sports Pass Tier, along with Outdoor Sportsman Group’s World Fishing Network and others.
Verizon dropped Sportsman Channel on Sept. 1, telling customers that as content costs continue to rise, and to prevent those costs from being reflected in customer bills, it sometimes becomes necessary to remove certain channels. “We have decided not to renew our contract for Sportsman Channel due to its low viewership, and have discontinued broadcasting it,” Verizon said earlier this month.
In March, Verizon said it decided not to renew its agreement with The Weather Channel mainly because it claimed customers received weather information from several different sources. Instead, it reached a carriage deal with AccuWeather.
Outdoor Channel parent Outdoor Sportsman Group claims that by dropping the channel, FiOS TV no longer offers any of the top networks for outdoor lifestyle enthusiasts. With the action, FiOS TV customers miss out on programming like Jim Shockey's Uncharted, Buck Commander, Blue Water Savages and The Gunfather.
“Our partners, advocates and viewers of outdoor lifestyle programming are very disappointed with Verizon’s actions in the last month,” said Outdoor Sportsman Group Networks CEO Jim Liberatore in a statement. “It should concern all Americans that one company can silence the only relevant voice of an entire industry with the flip of a switch."
FiOS TV does still carry other networks that have outdoor programming, including NBC Sports Network and Discovery-owned Destination America. In its notice to customers, FiOS also recommended Discovery, Nat Geo Wild and History to find "similar content."
Outdoor Channel has launched a microsite on the Web for viewers at www.KeepMyOutdoorTV.com. About 130 million people in America claim to engage in some form of outdoor activity. About 6.5 million of those are AFL-CIO members who the union claims, “make the outdoors an important part of their lives.”
“We are disappointed that Verizon has chosen to take these actions against Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a statement. “Working people can’t be silenced by big corporate interests, and will stand up to fight back against this unfair move by Verizon.”