More football fans will be able to watch the World Cup in their own homes after broadcast rights holder Logic struck a deal with cable television rival Flow to allow it to carry coverage of the tournament.
The two companies appear to have traded broadcast rights in an agreement that will mean Logic can carry increased coverage of the English Premier League next season.
Flow has the rights to the EPL and has typically made some, but not all games, available to rival networks through its Flow Sports channels.
The deal still leaves C3 and its customers out of the World Cup picture.
Randy Merren, managing director of C3, labeled the deal as “anti-competitive” and said he would be filing a complaint with OfReg, which polices the information and communications technology sector.
He said the deal represented two “dominant local providers” teaming up at the expense of a “local disruptor.”
He said, “The regulator is supposed to promote competition. They best stand up and deal with this today because if they allow [it] to continue, the Cayman Islands will be back where we started – with a monopoly provider in the telcom business.”
Logic is making 56 of the 64 matches available on Logic23, which will be accessible by Flow customers on its cable network on channel 111. Customers with an old-fashioned aerial will also be able to pick up the channel, which broadcasts over the air on channel 23. Logic had previously indicated that it would be enforcing its exclusive rights to cover the tournament.
DirecTV Latin America, which acquired the regional cable rights and sold them to Logic, wrote to Flow and C3 before the tournament instructing them to blackout any feeds that have World Cup coverage.
The move angered some football fans and complaints even reached the floor of the Legislative Assembly, with politicians concerned that over half the country would miss out on the tournament.
Darryl Hather, general manager of video operations with Logic, confirmed the company had agreed on a deal with Flow to make the coverage more widely available.
He said Logic would get a package of English Premiership games for next season in exchange.
He said, “We feel this maximizes the World Cup coverage to the people of the Cayman Islands, with the majority of cable subscribers having access.”
He added that those that could not get access through Logic or Flow would be able to view the games “over the air” by hooking up an antenna to their television. Initially Logic had planned to make four games available over the air, the minimum required by FIFA as part of the rights agreement. But they have now made the majority of the games available.
Mr. Hather said the agreement with Flow was essentially a private negotiation between the two companies that would allow Flow to broadcast Logic23 on its cable network.
The deal was revealed at the last minute, with many Flow customers unaware they would be able to access coverage until the tournament began on Thursday.
A spokesperson for Flow confirmed it was screening the games and referred questions to Logic. Mr. Merren said he had requested that Logic make its free to air channel available to C3 cable subscribers but the request had been turned down.
“C3 is extremely concerned. We view this agreement between Flow and Logic as breach of Clause 14 & 15 Anti-competitive Practice and Conduct in there licenses,” he said.
OfReg did not immediately respond to requests for comment but has previously indicated that it does not get involved in the contractual or commercial deals of its licensees.