'Players Network' Sues Comcast for $150 Million


LAS VEGAS (CN) - Comcast buried the "Vegas on Demand" channel, a Nevada company claims in court, and Players Network demands $150 million for breaching an agreement to push the gaming-related programming.
     Players Network sued Comcast, Comcast Cable and affiliates, and Advanced Information Systems, in Clark County Court.
     Players Network, a TV and digital media company, claims it agreed to build a gaming channel for Comcast in 2005, based on the strength of its Las Vegas-focused videos in hotels and on pay-per-view.
     Mark Bradley, Players Network founder and CEO, allegedly met with Peter Heumiller of Comcast regarding the partnership, which was signed Oct. 5, 2005, and timed with a news release.
     "The contract had an effective date of Nov. 1, 2005, and had a 10-year term.
     "Based on the contract and the promises made by Comcast defendants related to the contract, Players Network was over time able to raise and invest in excess of $15 million to launch as well as deliver services and programming content for the new gaming channel for Comcast," the 17-page complaint states.
     "Pursuant to the contract, Players Network provided to Comcast defendants programming consisting of gaming-centric entertainment, information lifestyle and commerce content for distribution and broadcast.
     It adds: "The amount of programming to be provided by Players Network that was to be stored and distributed and broadcast by Comcast was six hours per month in the first year of the contract, and was to increase by 20 percent each year; however, Comcast never provided sufficient storage to broadcast and distribute the agreed to six hour per month during the first year of the contract, and never provided expanded hours in compliance with the contract."
     Players Network claims that selling videos and merchandise to an estimated 22 million Comcast subscribers would have been a boon for its business, and that its profits would have ballooned by advances in dynamic ad insertion - technology used to replace dated commercials in on-demand programming with newer ads.
     "Comcast defendants also expected the value of Players Network would grow exponentially as it obtained the right to purchase 40 percent of Players Network pursuant to the terms of the contract," adds the lawsuit, which was removed from Clark County Court.
     But despite Heumiller's assurance that dynamic ad insertion would be developed along with the launch of the channel, allowing Players Network's products to be "baked into the programming," Comcast repeatedly told the plaintiff that the technology did not exist for commercial use, the Players Network claims.
     So, Players Network claims, it enlisted the support of defendant Advanced Information Systems, "which had perfected middleware technology that allowed for dynamic ad insertion."
     But, "Instead of complying with the obligations set forth in the contract and the consent decree, Comcast defendants embarked on an improper course of conduct, which has buried the gaming channel, 'Vegas on Demand,' that Players Network developed in reliance on the contract, making it very difficult for Comcast subscribers to locate and view the programming created by Players Network that it provided to Comcast defendants for distribution and broadcast," the lawsuit states.
     Players Network, or PNTV, calls its channels "lifestyle playgrounds" where viewers can sign up for membership, merchandise and other stuff, according to its website, checked this morning.
     Players seeks $150 million from Comcast, plus $10,000 from Advanced Information Systems, for breach of contract.
     It is represented by Barney Ales.