TV network ONE World Sports furloughed most of its employees and went to reruns of old programming in late November with an eye to a sale, and they may have reached one. However, that sale could leave some who did work for them out in the cold.
As Ed Perovic of World Soccer Talk noted, those watching the channel’s feed Saturday discovered that the branding had changed to “Eleven Sports,” a completely separate network based in England that has channels in Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Singapore and Taiwan. Eleven Sports has not yet announced anything about ONE World Sports, but there does seem to be a takeover here. Still, this sale may not pay off the money the network owes freelance contractors and production companies for work done on ONE World Sports broadcasts last year, particularly those involving NY Cosmos soccer and Ivy League football.
According to a source, the network’s total debts to freelance production workers and production companies are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The source said over 10 individuals are owed substantial money, as well as at least one production company. Moreover, the source said ONE World Sports executives have not promised to pay those debts despite threats of legal action, meaning any sale could result in the purchaser acquiring just OWS’ assets and not its debts. It’s unclear what exactly the Eleven Sports deal involves, but it may not lead to those who worked for them being made whole.
“A lot of freelance production workers, on-air talent, as well as some crewers and packagers, worked very hard for ONE World Sports,” the source said. “While I feel bad for their financial troubles, OWS has betrayed the loyal group of people that made their productions great, by both not paying them for services rendered in good faith and by not keeping them updated on resolving a situation that has been going on for months.”
The source said OWS executives have not provided answers on what would happen to those debts if the company was sold, leading to fears that the debts will not be repaid.
“I’m afraid when OWS is sold the deal will erase their debts and all the people who worked so hard will never get paid for their work,” the source said. “Those people have their own bills to pay. They have families and children to take care of.”
Awful Announcing has seen e-mails from OWS executives to some of those asking for payment, indicating that the company was “not in a position to pay” outstanding invoices. Other OWS e-mails indicate that they hope to have their sale resolved soon, but that they wouldn’t commit to paying those invoices after a sale. Awful Announcing has also heard that one production company owed money has filed a suit against OWS. OWS did not return a request for comment for this story.
ONE World Sports is still carried on many providers, but its programming has been mostly reruns for months. Their website and programming schedule hasn’t been updated since November 28. Also, Ivy League basketball games originally scheduled for the network were moved to other channels. We’ll see how this Eleven Sports deal works out, and what programming the new channel will carry. We’ll also see if this deal leads to the network paying off its debts, or if those who did production work for them will be left uncompensated.