Q. I keep hearing that we might lose our CBS station on Friday if you have DIRECTV. If we lose it, would we lose the NFL Sunday Ticket, too? Many of the games are on CBS. Please let me know. We’re having a party on Sunday! — Tommie, West Palm Beach, Florida.
Update: Sinclair stations are still on as of Saturday, September 28, at 5:50 am. The two companies are apparently still negotiating; they have not offered a comment since yesterday.
Update #2: The companies announced a multi-year agreement on October 17. No blackout.
Tommie, DIRECTV, U-verse and AT&T TV Now could lose 136 Sinclair-owned local TV stations in 86 markets if AT&T does not reach a new carriage agreement with Sinclair by 5 p.m. ET tomorrow. (AT&T owns the three TV services.) In addition, Sinclair says it will remove the Tennis Channel, which it also owns.
The Sinclair stations include network affiliates for CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC so it’s prompted concerns from DIRECTV football fans that they could also lose the NFL Sunday Ticket. After all, as you note, the Ticket includes games broadcast by CBS and Fox.
I recently covered this scenario when AT&T was involved in a separate carriage dispute with the Nexstar broadcast group. But let me explain again how a Sinclair blackout could affect the Sunday Ticket.
If you subscribe to the Sunday Ticket, you will be able to see almost every CBS and Fox Sunday afternoon game regardless of whether your local Sinclair station is blacked out on DIRECTV.
As usual, your local broadcasts of the NFL games will be blacked out on the Sunday Ticket, even if you can’t watch those local broadcasts on DIRECTV because of any dispute.
For example, Tommie, let’s say your CBS Sinclair station was airing a game between the Patriots and Jets. Even though you couldn’t watch it on that CBS station because of the fee fight between Sinclair and DIRECTV, you also couldn’t watch it on the Sunday Ticket.
You will be able to watch games that are not being broadcast by your local CBS and Fox stations. For instance, if the Chiefs are playing the Colts, and your CBS station isn’t airing that game, it will be available on the Sunday Ticket.
I know this may sound unfair, but DIRECTV is legally bound by league rules to blackout the local broadcasts regardless of whether those broadcasts can actually be viewed on its service.
So that’s the deal. Hopefully, the fee fight will be settled before Sunday’s kickoff. But if it’s not, your Sunday Ticket party should see no interruptions.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at email@example.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann