“Dixit” avoided: Sky and Discovery reach 11th hour agreement

Discovery Networks’ channels, which include Eurosport 1 and 2, will continue broadcasting on Sky after the two companies reached a deal.

800,000 UK viewers watched Roger Federer win the Australian Open on Sunday.

800,000 UK viewers watched Roger Federer win the Australian Open on Sunday.

Discovery announced that a compromise had been reached at 7:27pm; it’s understood they accepted a lower carriage fee offer from Sky.

Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of Sky UK and Ireland said: “We are pleased that we will continue to carry the Discovery and Eurosport channels on Sky.

“The deal has been concluded on the right terms after Discovery accepted the proposal we gave them over a week ago. This is a good outcome for all Sky customers.”

However, Discovery immediately responded to say it didn’t back down on its offer to Sky, claiming it will offer new services under the deal.

A spokesperson for Discovery Networks said: “The deal we reached with Sky is meaningfully better than our former agreement and their proposal.

“Furthermore, our new arrangement enables us to control our destiny in more ways, with even more opportunities to invest and launch channels and consumer services.”

It’s unclear what those new services might be. Discovery’s UK pay-TV portfolio is the largest it has in Europe, with the notable exception of “red button” service Eurosport 360 which it operates on satellite in Germany and Spain.

Discovery and Sky had been in discussions over the carriage fee for thirteen channels since last summer, and when they had still not reached a deal with a week to go, Discovery warned customers the channels might disappear.

Negotiations went right down to the wire with industry publications reporting last chance efforts to save the channels were ongoing as late as Tuesday afternoon.

A war of words between the two companies reached a head at the weekend when Discovery accused Sky of using “alternative facts” when claiming they had been asked for almost £1 billion to carry Discovery’s channels.

Discovery broadcast warnings on screen, including during the Australian Open men’s final, which reached 800,000 viewers – 10% of the UK audience – on Sunday morning, only second to BBC One in ratings, according to Eurosport.

The announcement prompted hundreds of tennis fans to tweet the broadcasters urging them to reach an agreement, with many threatening to cancel their Sky subscriptions if they had.

Sunday morning’s final was enjoyed by 800,000 viewers – 10% of the UK audience and only second to BBC One in ratings, according to Eurosport whose next tennis coverage is in May.

After they did not renew broadcast rights to the Davis Cup, this weekend’s tie between Canada and Great Britain will be on the BBC only.

Sky began making preparations for the switching off of Discovery’s channels, removing them from its website and starting a test broadcast of an information caption on Monday.

Sky’s new deal with Discovery Networks includes carriage of its channels in Germany, where there was also a risk of them leaving Sky Deutschland tonight.