Television Business International

Discovery-Sky in crunch talks with hours to deadline

discovery deadline clockDiscovery Communications and Sky remain locked in talks about a new carriage deal, with hours to go before a deadline expires that will see the former’s channels pulled from the pay TV platform.

The pair have been involved in an acrimonious dispute over a new carriage deal for a bouquet of twelve Discovery pay TV nets and the Quest free-to-air channel in the UK.

All 13 will be yanked from the Sky platform at midnight tonight if the ongoing talks do not yield a resolution. The dispute also extends to Germany, where three Discovery nets will go dark if the impasse is not breached.

Discovery told TBI this morning that, with just hours to go, negotiations are ongoing. Sky refused to comment.

sky twitterCarriage disputes between channels and operators are not uncommon in the US, but rare in the UK, where there are fewer pay TV platforms and Sky is by far the largest. It is also the largest pay TV operator in Germany, leaving Discovery facing the prospect of going dark in Europe’s two biggest pay markets.

A bitter war of words has taken place between Discovery and Sky, much of which has been conducted on social media. Today Sky’s corporate feed was more focused on the UK football transfer deadline day (pictured).

Amidst the acrimony, Sky has made a point of noting Discovery is a US company (despite Stateside giant Fox, owner of the Nat Geo nets, being in the throes of taking control of Sky) and is asking for close to US$1 billion for its channels.

Eurosport Federer credit Greg Wood AFP Getty Images
© Greg Wood AFP Getty Images

Discovery denied this figure is correct, and has frequently referenced Sky’s dominant position in UK pay TV and the large sum it pays for football rights, allegedly to the detriment of the type of factual and entertainment it provides.

The deadline for a new deal is midnight tonight, as Discovery is highlighting on its Keep Discovery website.

With the deadline looming, Discovery was keen to highlight the success of the weekend’s Australian Open tennis final on its Eurosport net.

Coverage of the Roger Federer’s historic victory over Rafa Nadal on Sunday was the highest-rated tennis match ever on the channel and garnered 800,000 viewers in the UK, making it the second most-watched channel in the country at the time.