Cable channels Food Network and HGTV returned to AT&T U-verse subscribers late Sunday night, after the IPTV provider struck a deal with programmer Scripps Networks that both could agree on. But the deal could be seen as a win not just for AT&T, which insisted on broad multiplatform rights for Scripps programming, but for consumers who should soon have access to a wide range of specialty cooking and home renovation content online and on mobile devices.
Last Friday, AT&T pulled Scripps channels — including Food Network, HGTV, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and GAC — from its network lineup, amidst stalled negotiations with the programmer. While AT&T characterized the fight as one over money — the IPTV firm lamented that Scripps was asking it for “double what other competitors pay” — Scripps said the disagreement was more about securing rights to its content on multiple platforms.
In its statement on the matter last week, to Scripps President John Lansing was quoted as saying that the parties had reached an agreement in principal on price, but that “AT&T U-verse demanded unreasonably broad video rights for emerging media where business models have not even been established.” Well it appears that Scripps has capitulated on that point, deciding that distribution to AT&T’s 2.7 million U-verse customers was more important than taking a stand on multiplatform content rights.
In a Facebook update about Scripps programming returning to U-verse, AT&T said:
“U-verse TV customers: HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and GAC are back on U-verse TV! We’re happy to let you know that we’ve reached a fair deal with these networks, and our deal will also bring you even more access to their programming across devices. Thank you for all your support and patience.”
That indicates that AT&T secured the rights it was looking for, even on platforms where Scripps says “business models have not even been established.”
AT&T has been pushing hard from a multiplatform standpoint, with an application called U-verse Mobile that enables subscribers to program their DVR as well as access some U-verse programming on the go. The video portion of the app has been available on iPhone and iPod Touch since August, and will come preloaded on phones shipping with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system, which go on sale today. The app is also available on select Blackberry and Google Android devices.
Importantly, the U-Verse app isn’t just for AT&T pay TV subscribers, but is available for anyone with a supporting smartphone and $9.99 a month. By subscribing to the U-Verse Mobile service, consumers will have access to on-demand content from PBS Kids, as well as Disney programming from ABC, ABC Family, ABC News, the Disney Channel, Disney XD and ESPN, and Discovery shows from Animal Planet, TLC and the Discovery Channel. Presumably that will also soon include content from Scripps Networks channels, based on what AT&T has to say about the deal.
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