Fox, AT&T At Loggerheads Over FS1 Action

U-Verse Customers Will Miss NASCAR, College Hoops Contests
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AT&T U-Verse customers could continue to miss out on select auto racing, college  basketball and golf contest on Fox Sports 1 this weekend, over a dispute concerning additional charges in its current carriage agreement.

According to Fox, U-Verse customers already missed last Saturday’s NASCAR XFinity Series race from Atlanta, and will miss this weekend’s NASCAR XFinity Series race in Las Vegas if a deal isn’t reached. If the dispute drags on, U-Verse customers could miss Big East Conference college basketball games, the first two round’s of the USGA U.S. Open and U.S. Men’s and Women’s soccer matches.

U-Verse has a current carriage agreement with Fox Sports 1, but the network is apparently asking for an additional fee to carry the contests in question. The dispute is similar to one the sports network had with Dish Network last year, concerning college football games over the Labor Day weekend.

That dispute, which was resolved at the eleventh hour on Labor Day, had its origins in the launch of FS1. The channel was borne from the now-defunct Speed Channel, a Fox cable network devoted to motor sports. According to sources in the cable financial community, subscribers who already had Speed Channel deals were given the option of riding out the remainder of their original Speed agreement or reaching a new deal with FS1. Many distributors opted to stick the old agreement, mainly over cost. According to SNL Kagan data, Speed Channel was priced at about 24 cents per subscriber per month. FS1 has reportedly asked for fees of 80 cents per subscriber per month, escalating to $1.50 over time.

But those sources said there as a catch to sticking with the less costly deal – Fox was able to charge additionally for sports programming that normally wouldn’t have aired on Speed.

The dispute is different than other carriage fights in that the channel is still carried by U-Verse, only specific games are being blacked out.

Neither side seemed to be optimistic that a deal would be reached soon.

“We have a carriage agreement in place with FOX Sports 1, but our efforts to reach an acceptable solution with Fox over these additional payments have not been successful,” AT&T said in a statement. “They are asking for additional fees for certain car racing events, some college basketball games and golf content. We obviously try to provide our customers with the content they want but don't want to be in the position of needing to pass on to all of our customers the added costs of carrying this particular programming.”

If the dispute continues, Fox warns that U-Verse customers will miss more and has set up a web site to inform consumers. The company is urging U-Verse to contact their provider and insist the games be restored.

“AT&T U-verse has determined it will forgo carriage of dozens of live sporting events on FOX Sports 1.,” Fox Sports 1 said in a statement. “ Unfortunately, U-Verse subscribers have already missed several events, and will miss many more including this Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race from Las Vegas. Other events that will not air are 7 additional NASCAR Xfinity Series races, 14 Big East Conference basketball games (including all men’s tournament games), 8 USGA events including rounds 1 and 2 of the US Open, and possibly many Major League Soccer and US Men’s and Women’s National Team soccer games.”

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