The war over breaking up the traditional cable and satellite television bundle has recently been personified by ESPN's breach of contract lawsuit against Verizon for the new slimmed down FiOS pay-for-only-the-channels-you-want service.
"The Verizon deal ... from arm's length looks like pretty straight forward. ESPN's position is Verizon does not have the right to do what they are doing," former ESPN President George Bodenheimer said Wednesday.
ESPN maintains the channel has to be included in the basic plan—an assertion that Verizon disputes.
Verizon's Custom TV service—starting at $55 per month—does not include ESPN in the base channel lineup. The plan has two free channel packs, which include two sports tiers among the options. Additional channel packs are $10 more per month.
Bodenheimer sees value in the traditional TV bundle model he helped create by persuading cable operators in the 1980s not only to carry a 24-hour sports channel, but to pay for it, too.
In a 33-year career there, he put Walt Disney-owned ESPN on the map—rising from the mail room to become the sports network's longest-serving leader.
"The bundle is here to stay for a long time for a great many number of customers," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" in an interview. "[But] you can't stand in the way of technology. Consumers want more choice, and the Walt Disney Company and ESPN are working with our distributors and looking for new ways to distribute that product, as are all the cable networks."