Q. I would like to watch HBO on Dish, but it’s been off for a long, long time. Do you think it will ever come back? — Ginni, Jacksonville, Florida.
Ginni, it’s been 10 months since Dish and HBO couldn’t reach a new carriage agreement. And when the old pact expired on November 1, HBO pulled both HBO and Cinemax from Dish, and the Dish-owned live streaming service, Sling TV.
When the blackout began, I predicted it might take months to resolve. And, Ginni, I’m sorry to tell you that I don’t foresee it ending anytime soon. In fact, I would not be surprised if Dish never makes a deal with AT&T, which owns HBO.
Why? Two reasons.
1. If any subscribers planned to drop Dish or Sling due to the loss of HBO and Cinemax, they would have done it by now.
It’s been 10 months. Dish really doesn’t have to worry about subscriber defections now.
And while some Dish and Sling subscribers initially dropped their service due to the loss of HBO, most HBO fans probably signed up for the channel’s standalone version. (HBO Now), which costs the same as the Dish/Sling version. Rather than having to get a new TV provider, Dish and Sling customers can simply watch HBO online.
Consequently, there’s very little pressure on Dish to make a deal.
2. Dish has a history of playing tough in carriage negotiations, which has often led to long blackouts.
Dish likes to prolong negotiations to get the best deal possible — and save some carriage money during the blackout. And now that it doesn’t need to make a deal, it can wait until AT&T caves.
But AT&T is highly unlikely to cave because it’s trying to generate more revenue from HBO, not less.
Add it all up and you may never see HBO on Dish and Sling again.
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— Phillip Swann