Dish has been missing Hearst-owned network affiliates in 26 markets now for 52 days and the satcaster’s subscribers are taking to social media sites to vent their growing impatience and anger.
On March 3, the two companies broke off talks for a new carriage agreement, leaving Dish viewers in such large markets as Kansas City, Baltimore, Boston, Orlando and Milwaukee without at least one local channel. (See a list of all Hearst-owned stations here.)
For the first few weeks, Dish and Hearst issued scathing statements blaming each other for the dispute. However, since March 27, when Hearst posted an update on their station web sites, both sides have said nary a word in public.
That has left it to the viewers to voice their opinions — on social media sites and other Internet message forums.
The tone of their remarks is getting so bitter that you have to wonder if some of them will soon contemplate dropping Dish and installing an antenna to watch their Hearst-owned locals. It’s not that they necessarily blame Dish, but they are clearly frustrated and desperate for any solution.
Last night, @LarryBevansJr responded: “Just call any of ABC’s advertisers and say you’ ll never buy any of their products! Time for people to start taking back our power!”
@KatHessel last night got angry when she couldn’t watch a NBA playoff game on her local ABC affiliate.
@Blimfarkle served a reminder that if Dish subscribers don’t drop their service, they may start demanding refunds.
“NOTE: All Dish customers MUST call & REQUEST billing adjustment for this blackout. No automatic refunds – we have to BEG!,” the subscriber wrote last night.
@TurfNetMaestro probably best summed up the feelings of Dish subscribers who watch local Hearst channels.
“Greedy ass—– can make a deal!” added @Thedaringpastry on Twitter.
While the battle is likely hurting Hearst’s ratings, Dish may have more to lose if the fight continues. The local station is likely to regain its viewers when the dispute ends, but how does Dish get back subscribers who switch services or drop pay TV entirely?
It’s always easier to retain a customer than enticing a new one to sign up.
— Phillip Swann