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BeIN Sports retains penetration levels with Verizon carriage renewal

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BeIN Sports retains penetration levels with Verizon carriage renewal

Following a nine-day disconnect, beIN SPORTS (US) and beIN SPORTS en Español (US) were restored to Verizon Communications Inc.'s FiOS TV systems, maintaining the same level of carriage under the contract that expired early this month.

The parties reached a contract renewal Aug. 10, which returned the two networks to FiOS viewers that evening. Deal terms were not disclosed, but sources familiar with the negotiations said the programmer was able to retain the broader level of carriage it had under the deal with Verizon that expired Aug. 1.

Antonio Briceño, Deputy Managing Director of beIN SPORTS North America, had said in a recent interview that Verizon had been trying to roll back the channels to sports and Spanish-language tiers.

Verizon, which had indicated that the programmer was seeking significant subscriber license fee increases, did not respond to queries for an update by press time.

With their reinstatement, Verizon subscribers to the networks were able to watch the opening weekend of Ligue 1, France's top soccer circuit. Another key soccer beIN property, Spain's La Liga, kicks off its 2018-2019 campaign Aug. 17.

"This renewal with this valued distribution partner could not come at a more exciting time, as we approach the start of the soccer and Conference USA football seasons," Briceño said in a news release. "We're thrilled that our loyal viewers and fans won't miss a minute of the action."

Although the sports programmer, whose portfolio also includes CONCACAF and CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers, WTA tennis, rugby, mixed martial arts and boxing, has regained carriage light with Verizon, it remains dark on Comcast Corp. systems, which distributed the channels on sports tiers and Spanish-language video packages.

As of Aug. 13, beIN said there had not been any discussions between it and Comcast since the networks went dark early Aug. 1.

On Aug. 3, the Media Bureau at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission dismissed beIN Sports' claim that Comcast allegedly discriminated against the channels in favor of cable networks NBCSN (US) (US) and UNIVERSO (US), which are part of content arm NBCUniversal Media LLC's portfolio.

However, Briceño said the programmer was encouraged that the FCC didn't provide support for Comcast's primary arguments and the Media Bureau's "ruling without prejudice" means beIN can revisit the complaint. It plans to refile documentation around its networks' programming lineups in a format that meets the Media Bureau’s requirement.

Comcast declined to comment about the status of negotiations with beIN. Following the FCC Media Bureau ruling, it issued a statement that said, in part, "Our carriage of the beIN channels was consistent with how they are carried by most other cable and satellite providers as niche services on specialty and less-penetrated tiers. We in no way discriminated against beIN."