Deadline looms as hope remains Sky and Discovery can hammer out a deal

Oliver Gill
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2015 Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day 5
Snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan is upset that Discovery's Eurosport is one of the channels set to be axed (Source: Getty)

Last ditch negotiations between Sky and Discovery will run to the wire this week, with hope remaining that the axing of 12 channels can be averted.

Earlier this week, Discovery revealed its UK channels, including Eurosport and Animal Planet, will be binned by Sky at the end of the month after negotiations broke down between the two media giants.

However, sources familiar with the situation told City A.M. that with the deadline looming on Tuesday there is still time for Sky and Discovery to hammer out a deal to save the channels.

Read more: Sky to axe all Discovery channels at end of January

All. Out. War.

The two firms have been trying to agree a new long term contract but negotiations have been hampered by decreasing demand for Discovery channels.

Sky sources said viewing figures have dropped by 15 per cent across the Discovery portfolio over the last 12 months and Discovery's flagship channel is down by by 33 per cent since 2006.

Negotiations are understood to be complex but there are elements where both parties see eye-to-eye.

And on Wednesday evening, with a deadline looming less than a week away, Eurosport kicked off a rather unedifying public war of words.

Read more: Celebrities take aim at Sky in bid to #keepdiscovery channels

Discovery were first to go public, lambasting the soon to be 21st Century Fox-owned firm and adding "somebody has to stand up for consumers".

Sky responded: "We have been overpaying Discovery for years and are not going to anymore."

On the line – channels to be removed from Sky customers' screens

Discovery Channel
Discovery History
Animal Planet
Discovery Shed
Home and Health
Discovery Science
Discovery Turbo

On Friday, Discovery revealed the level of support it had received after social media campaign to save the channels. Celebrities ranging from fashion designer David Emanuel to snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan back the #keepdiscovery campaign.

The campaign by Discovery appeared to have hit a raw nerve as Sky upped the ante, its spokesperson saying:

We have worked really hard for more than a year to get a deal done for our customers with Discovery, so we are disappointed with their misleading claims and aggressive actions. We now feel it’s time to set the record straight.

Because despite our differences, we love Discovery too.

Read more: Premier League costs hit Sky's profits in first half

Sky revealed Discovery was demanding almost £1bn for the channels to remain on its UK platform and were open in proposing a solution to the situation.

"If Discovery don’t want their channels to disappear, as their public campaign suggests, they could have made arrangements to stay on Sky, including free to air with advertising funding or with their own subscription, but they’ve chosen not to do so," the Sky spokesperson said.

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