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Dish vs. Fox Sports: Is There Anything New?

Q. I’m a Dish subscriber and I have been without my Fox local sports channel since July. My question is: Will it ever come back, or is it gone forever? — Quinn, Phoenix.

Quinn, on July 26, both Dish and its live streaming service, Sling TV, lost 22 different Fox Sports regional channels (including your Fox Sports Arizona) due to a disagreement over how much they should pay to carry them. (Although the channels carry the Fox name, they are actually owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, which purchased them over the summer.)

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Since the dispute began, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has suggested the channels may never return because, in his opinion, Sinclair is asking for excessive fees. Sinclair, however, says its demands are consistent with what other pay TV operators have paid.

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There is no indication that the disagreement will end anytime soon, but there is something new.

Earlier this month, Dish reported that Dish and Sling combined for a net gain of 148,000 subscribers in the third quarter, despite the loss of the Fox regional sports channels. The news surprised industry analysts who thought the two services would lose a significant number of sports fans during the quarter.

The addition undoubtedly eases the pressure on Dish to make a deal with Sinclair. That could be good news if Sinclair acknowledges that reality and lowers its fees. But it could be bad news if Sinclair holds firm and Dish feels even more confident about not making a deal. At this point, we don’t know how it’s playing out because the negotiations are conducted behind closed doors.

Dish’s negotiating stance has also been strengthened because the company is now saving an enormous amount of money by not paying Sinclair those carriage fees.  Wall Street analyst Rich Greenfield estimates the annual savings could come to $500 million, assuming the channels remain off the air for an entire year.

In a conference call held on November 7 with financial analysts, Ergen acknowledged the savings, but added that he still wants a deal with Sinclair.

“We like Sinclair. We’ve had a long-term relationship with Sinclair. We like the company. We like the people there. We’d rather have regional sports, but we’re not going to — as a company, we’re not going to subsidize. We’re not going to subsidize regional sports. And so there is economics that may not work for them, but there is economics. We know what the economics are for us,” Ergen said, according to The Motley Fool.

So, bottom line: Dish (and Sling) appear to be in no hurry to strike a new agreement with Sinclair. The big question now is if that will pressure Sinclair to relax its demands and offer terms acceptable to the nation’s second largest satellite operator.

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— Phillip Swann

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The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

8 Comments on Dish vs. Fox Sports: Is There Anything New?

  1. I live in NJ and had Dish Network for close to 20 years and finally left them about three years ago because they refused to carry (and continue to do so) NY Sports stations ; YES, SNY and MSG. Sling had YES for a very short period of time to grab local Comcast subscribers when Comcast dropped YES from it’s lineup for close to a year. Charlie Ergen plays poker with every provider and ends up in many more fee fights than the other providers. With that said, I miss Dish Networks great equipment and interface as DirecTV’s interface and equipment are not up to par and has sat stagnant ever since being acquired by AT&T,

  2. Quinn , Think of how MUCH money you are saving.

    Also there are LOTS of better things to watch on TV than some sports game. When it is over, and forgotten who really cared in the first place.

    You can always watch the Trump Disaster, it has LOTS more action than some old sports game. It has LIES, FOULS, DECEIT, CON GAME ACTION, CORRUPTION, LOCK-UPS, SEX, and is a LOT more exciting. You can even BET on the out-come and maybe become RICH and happy.

    Sinclair, however, says its demands are consistent with what other pay TV operators have paid. That’s like saying my neighbor BURNED his House Down, so why can’t I.

    At least DISH doesn’t have AT&T working OVERTIME Destroying what WAS a great TV Provider.

  3. Charles J Bilodeau // November 19, 2019 at 8:36 am // Reply

    I have been a Dish subscriber for over 30 years. The only winners in my area is the local bars. Most have found that by having multiple providers for TV pays for its self. One or the other will have the channel selection that includes the station they are looking for.

  4. I have dish. Im very upset that we lost several channels. The biggest problem is that you are in a contract and if you decide to leave, you have to pay a large amount to end your contract. Just because people are still with them doesn’t mean the customers want to continue service. They are in a contract and have to buy out your contract. We are at the first of the year. Thats when you will see customers leave. Trust me. We are!

  5. Dorothy E Woodington // November 19, 2019 at 10:07 am // Reply

    Since they are such a huge amount of money, why isnt some of that savings being passed down to the customer. I’m paying a premium fee for a premium package to get all those channel, but are not receiving all the channels.

  6. I think it’s too late for both Sinclair and Dish to get back to the bargaining table, and getting this thing settled, one way or another. There have not been any negotiations between Dish and the Fox Sports Regional Networks since the blackout began on July 26, and this thing should have been settled long ago. I have already given up on any hope for a deal. I hope they never reach an agreement. I’m through watching Fox Sports Midwest.

  7. when it’s local renewal time Sinclair can force the issue super bowl is coming up be an same that dish does not have it.

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