Verizon is following DIRECTV’s lead by adding a regional sport network surcharge to FiOS TV bills. The move is designed to offset the ever increasing costs of sports programming in many major markets. How much extra will you pay if you are a FiOS TV subscriber?
The initial surcharge that will be added to month-to-month customers bills is $2.42. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, don’t be surprised if it creeps up each and every year. Many cities now have more than one regional sports network – specifically Los Angeles and New York.
Distributors like Verizon and DIRECTV have been forced to add fees to recoup higher costs associated with both regional sports channels and national networks like ESPN. The most recent dispute in the Southern California market has been over Time Warner SportsNet, a channel dedicated to the Los Angeles Lakers. Time Warner has reportedly been asking nearly $4 a month per subscriber each month for the rights to the channel. DIRECTV initially balked at those terms, leading to a blackout on the channel for several weeks at the start of the NFL season.
Verizon also faces high regional sports channel fees in New York City, where the Yankees have their own dedicated sports network called YES. Add to that new reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Time Warner are teaming up to create another regional channel and you see why Verizon will have to raise prices in some way to keep all of these premium sports channels on the air.
The regional sports fee will only apply to month-to-month subscriptions initially, but FiOS customers will see the charge added when their contract ends or if they change their programming package. The fee will also apply first in California, Texas and Florida in February. It will be added in New York and all other states with FiOS in March and April.