Comcast Comes Out Ahead in Judge's Ruling Over 'Vegas on Demand' Channel

Cable giant was sued for allegedly not doing enough to advance a digital network covering gaming and Las Vegas lifestyle.
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Players Network, which had a contract with Comcast to develop a network devoted to Las Vegas gaming lifestyle, looks like it will be falling short of winning the jackpot in a $150 million lawsuit against the cable giant. On Monday, a federal judge in Nevada rejected most of the plaintiff's claims.

According to the January 2014 lawsuit filed in Nevada, Comcast vp Peter Heumiller contacted Mark Bradley's Players Network, which served up videos to major hotels and its patrons. The plan was to license videos for a new digital network with Bradley promising help in attaining sponsors and advertisers. The parties signed a 10-year agreement in 2005, but expectations fell short, and Comcast was accused of burying the "Vegas on Demand" channel and substantially harming Bradley's business.

In defense of the lawsuit, Comcast said its contract was merely a licensing one that authorized but did not obligate the company to distribute the programming.

In a ruling on Monday, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled that the agreement between the two companies didn't obligate Comcast to increase distribution of the gaming programming. The judge dismisses a contract claim against Comcast because the plaintiff hasn't identified any breached contractual obligations, although she gives Players Network a month to cure deficiencies and file an amended complaint.

Comcast has also come out ahead on most of the plaintiff's other claims including breaching fiduciary duty and fraudulent inducement. Although the judge refused to dismiss the plaintiff's claim that Comcast breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by not providing sufficient storage for the plaintiff's programming, she couldn't find any implied obligations on Comcast to promote the gaming channel or use ad insertion technology.

The lawsuit also accused Comcast of violating a consent decree made with the FCC at the time of the NBCUniversal acquisition. Players Network says it is a third party beneficiary of the media giant's assurances it would not discriminate against smaller channels.

The judge deferred ruling on the merits of this claim.

Although Comcast came close to rolling snake eyes on its motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs are cheering the outcome nevertheless. Bradley says in a statement that Comcast's failure to have the case completely thrown out "confirms the validity of our complaint" while his company's attorney promises to go ahead with an amended complaint.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner

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