Eurosport channels drop from Telia screens in Discovery stand-off

Telia customers throughout the Nordic region have lost access to Eurosport’s channels after the telco failed to reach a new carriage deal with the international sports broadcaster’s parent company, US media group Discovery.

The Eurosport channels were removed from Telia’s customers’ screens in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden today (Tuesday) after the existing contract with Discovery expired last night.

In Norway, Telia offers Discovery’s channels through cable-television platform Get. Get said it had offered Discovery a short-term deal based on existing terms, with a view to granting extra time to strike a long-term arrangement.

This was rejected, but Pål Rune Kaalen, head of Telia Norge, said the telco still wants to find a “good solution” together with Discovery. Kaalen added: “I would like to apologise to all our customers. This is not a solution we have wanted.

“We have worked hard to allow our viewers to access their usual channels while we negotiate, but unfortunately Discovery has not wanted this. Our goal has always been to provide customers with a choice of affordability at an affordable price. That’s why we don’t think it’s fair that Discovery wants to force our customers to pay for channels they don’t want.”

In Denmark, Telia has already moved to revamp its channel packages. Sine Smith Jensen, director of commercial management at Telia, said: “We are pleased to introduce a number of new, popular channels to our TV customers, now that we have not been able to reach an agreement with Discovery Networks for an agreement for the coming years.

“However, we cannot rule out that we will reintroduce some of the channels from Discovery Networks at a later date.”

In Sweden, Telia told the Aftonbladet newspaper that “intense negotiations” throughout Monday night failed to come to an agreement. Telia added: “We want a long-term, sustainable solution in place that benefits our customers.

“It is a matter of why certain content should not be available via regular television. We mean that partly we know that most of the TV viewing is done via regular television. This makes it difficult for many elderly people where digital television is not an option. Therefore, we could not reach an agreement. But our door is still open for negotiation.”

In a statement, Discovery Networks Sweden said it is “still open to a deal with Telia and wants to continue negotiating.”

Discovery Networks Sweden, which holds rights to Swedish football’s Allsvenskan and Superettan from 2020 to 2025, said: “We have recently reached agreements with several major TV distributors such as Telenor and Viasat and had of course hoped to also be able to agree with Telia. But they demand to pay less for our content than the rest of the market and that’s something we can’t agree to.

“We offered Telia to extend the agreement for 24 hours so that this does not affect viewers, but Telia unfortunately said no to it.”

Touching upon the distribution negotiations and an OTT push in the Nordic region, Discovery president and chief executive David Zaslav remarked in an investors call last week: “Expect us to play a bit more offence in select markets, particularly where consolidation in distributors means we have to push harder to get full value for our richer content portfolio. One such market where this is taking place is in Denmark, and we are pushing ahead far more aggressively with our OTT solution.

“In some countries like Sweden, for example, [Discovery-owned DTT platform] Dplay will be the only place fans can watch Allsvenskan, the local Swedish football league with 200-plus games. It’s a must-have and compelling content in the marketplace and in part, the reason why Dplay continues to be the fastest-growing SVOD [subscription video on demand] service in the Nordics.”