Q. I am worried that the fight that has blacked out my CBS station on DIRECTV means I won’t be able to watch the Sunday Ticket games on Sunday. If that’s true, I will be angry, angry, angry. Please let me know if that’s true! I am having some friends over on Sunday. — Bob, Fairfax, Virginia.
Bob, DIRECTV on Tuesday night lost 60 Tegna-owned local channels due to a carriage dispute, and it’s unclear when they will return. The two sides are continuing to engage in a war of words over who’s to blame. AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, has asked Tegna for permission to show Sunday’s NFL games while negotiations continue, but the broadcaster is not likely to comply. (The blackout also affects U-verse, AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now.)
The Tegna 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.
But let me explain how the Tegna 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 Tegna 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, Bob, let’s say your CBS Tegna station (WUSA-TV) airs this Sunday’s AFC matchup between the Colts and the Texans. Even though you couldn’t watch it on that CBS station because of the fee fight between Tegna and DIRECTV, you also couldn’t watch it on the Sunday Ticket.
DIRECTV/Tegna viewers who have the Sunday Ticket will be able to watch games that are not being broadcast by your local CBS and Fox stations. For instance, if the Lions are playing the Bears (as they are on Sunday) and your Fox/Tegna 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 so whatever games that your CBS and Fox affiliates air will be available to you.
Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann