Discovery and StarHub clash over carriage fees, 11 channels possibly axed

Discovery has revealed that it has “reached an impasse” in recent negotiations with StarHub over carriage fees. In a statement to the press, Discovery said that StarHub is “not prepared to pay fair value and have announced their decision to cease transmission of all 11 Discovery channels on their platform".

The channels impacted are Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery Science, Discovery Asia, Eurosport, Setanta, HGTV, Asian Food Channel, Food Network, and Travel Channel.

"All we are asking for is the equivalent of a cup of coffee per customer per month. We have a responsibility to now take the extraordinary step of informing our viewers that they may lose all the Discovery channels they are paying for on StarHub," the statement said.

It added that in Singapore, Discovery’s portfolio of channels reached over 1.3 million viewers in the past year. This was driven by the top five flagship channels – Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Asian Food Channel and HGTV.

Addressing downward trends in overall English pay TV ratings, Discovery explained that its combined portfolio of programmes had showed a 10% increase in rating this year. This is comparing the period of January to April 2018 versus January to December 2017. For Discovery, this is a “strong indication that viewers are not just engaged with [its] channels but that [its] content resonates more than ever before”. It added that viewership data also shows that its flagship channels have “strong affinity with the core target audiences”.

“Despite StarHub’s announcement, we still hope to resume discussions so that StarHub viewers can continue to enjoy their much-loved shows from Discovery,” the statement read.

StarHub responds

In response to Marketing queries, StarHub confirmed that it is in talks on negotiations with Discovery and is “doing everything possible to arrive at a deal which would allow Discovery and StarHub to continue [their] partnership while offering our customers the same content at a reasonable price”.

“Our customers are our top priority and we are working hard to ensure that they can enjoy an uninterrupted viewing experience. Concurrently, we are acquiring fresh replacement content in the event that negotiations prove unsuccessful,” StarHub’s statement read.

In the event that StarHub and Discovery are unable to agree on a renewal, the seven Discovery Networks channels will cease transmission on 30 June 2018. StarHub will then announce the launch of several new channels to ensure customers can continue to access to a range of education and lifestyle channels. This will be carried out in the coming weeks.

“We assure customers that we remain committed to providing them with a comprehensive range of quality content across genres. We value all our customers and we appreciate their business,” the statement added.

Amidst negotiations with Discovery, StarHub has also offered customers a free preview of 28 channels over five genres from 11 June to 15 July 2018 to thank them for their support. This includes channels such as Animax, AXN, BBC Earth, BBC Lifestyle, BBC World News, Blue Ant Entertainment, Blue Ant Extreme, Bloomberg, CBeebies, Crime + Investigation, CNBC, Comedy Central Asia, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, DIVA, E! Entertainment, FYI, H2, HISTORY, HITS, Lifetime, Love Nature, MTV Asia, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Smithsonian Channel and Sony Channel.

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