Discovery slams Sky for using 'alternative facts' in retrans dispute

Sky in the UK (Sky)
Discovery Communications is accusing U.K. pay-TV provider Sky of being misleading in its statement last week accusing Discovery of asking for close to $1.25 billion for its channels.

After Sky accused Discovery Communications of demanding exorbitant rates for its channels, Discovery is firing back at Sky, accusing the U.K. pay-TV provider of being misleading.

“Sky’s statement is unfortunately based on ‘alternative facts,’” Discovery said in a statement. “The truth is Sky pay us less now than they did in 2006. We have asked for a few extra pennies per year for each Sky household. We would never choose to come off Sky and abandon our viewers who we value enormously.”

“We’ve been amazed and humbled by the incredible support from many of the millions who watch Discovery programs on Sky every week. We hope Sky will listen to them and realize that while they provide top quality sport and drama, people want variety and choice and that includes all the programs offered by Discovery's network of channels including documentaries, sport, natural history and entertainment,” Discovery added.

Discovery’s latest missive in the brewing retrans battle comes after Sky issued a statement late last week accusing Discovery of asking for close to $1.25 billion for its channels.

“We were prepared to pay a fair price for the Discovery and Eurosport channels and invest more in those channels to make them even better for our customers. We have offered hundreds of millions of pounds to Discovery, a US$12B American business but that wasn’t enough. They asked the Sky Group to pay close to £1B ($1.25B) for their portfolio of channels, many of which are in decline,” Sky said in a statement, according to Deadline.

“Sadly, we have now had to prepare for Discovery to take their channels away from Sky customers, as they have threatened to do. It is Discovery’s choice to do this, not ours. We never left the negotiating table and they haven’t come back to it since they made their threats public this week.”

RELATED: Discovery’s impasse with U.K. provider Sky to kick-start OTT strategy: analyst

The dust-up between Discovery and Sky has some analysts wondering whether the programmer is ready to make up revenue with an OTT strategy should it continue to find itself on the outside of the pay-TV bundle looking in.

“We believe Sky is fully committed to shifting the dollars they pay Discovery into exclusive, original programming (an increasingly important focus to distinguish their platform from peers). In turn, the question is can Discovery accept lower fees from Sky and try to make it up through future over-the-top bundles (vMVPDs) and their direct-to-consumer ambitions (with products like Eurosport Player)?” BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield asked in a research note.

RELATED: How Discovery became ‘well positioned’ for OTT in 2017

“From a programmer standpoint, we fear the aggregate number of direct-to-consumers subs is less than they believe are out there at the price points they need to compensate for what is happening to their base, linear bundle revenues; not to mention the continuity risk of not having to sign up for direct-to-consumer offerings for the entire year,” Greenfield added.

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