Q. I’ve been reading the comments here from DIRECTV and Dish subscribers that they are mad at the blackouts of local channels. My question is why on earth don’t they just cancel their service and get a new one, or just cut the cord? Come on, people, there are a lot of options out there including streaming. — Pete, Pasadena, California.
Pete, DIRECTV this week lost 60 Tegna-owned local channels in a fee fight while Dish lost 164 local channels owned by Nexstar in a separate carriage battle. Dish now has 236 channels blacked out due to eight different rate clashes.
Update: DIRECTV & Tegna sign new carriage pact.
The blackouts have certainly triggered an outpouring of angry comments here, and on social media sites, from DIRECTV and Dish customers. They can not believe that all companies involved seem to have little consideration for their interests.
Considering that there are other viewing options now, such as Netflix, and live streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu Live, it’s reasonable to ponder why more people don’t just drop DIRECTV and Dish.
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But there are two reasons why the latest blackouts will likely not lead to widespread defections from either service.
1. The two-year contract
We don’t know exactly how many Dish and DIRECTV subscribers have signed up for two-year commitments as part of their subscriptions. But it’s a requirement for new customers, and many long-time subscribers have agreed to renew their subs for two years in exchange for certain incentives such as free equipment upgrades.
While I have long argued that the two-year agreement is a bad deal for consumers, many people can’t resist because both Dish and DIRECTV offer tantalizing perks as part of the deal. Dish’s two-year agreement for new customers includes a price guarantee for two years while DIRECTV’s commitment includes free Sunday Ticket and HBO Max for one year as well as lower prices in year one.
The problem with the agreement, however, comes when something bad happens during the two years such as a blackout of a favorite channel, or a bad customer experience. The subscriber under the two-year agreement may want to drop service, but that would trigger a $20-a-month ‘early termination’ penalty for the remaining months left in the contract.
That’s a serious handcuff. For example, if you dropped service after one year, you would have to pay $240 in penalties.
DIRECTV and Dish know that the two-year commitment gives them leverage over their customers, which often leads to them being taken for granted. You can almost hear the executives saying, ‘They’re not going to drop us; they can’t because they would have to pay the penalty.’
If it were not for the two-year agreement, you can only imagine how many subscriber defections there would be for Dish and DIRECTV.
2. Many satellite subscribers can’t watch streaming, or even cable TV.
A significant number of DIRECTV and Dish subscribers can’t switch to streaming because there are no reliable Internet services in their area. (In many places, there’s not even a cable TV option.) The FCC this year estimated that 21 million rural Americans still lack access to high-speed Internet, although some believe the number is higher.
The limited TV options in rural areas is one reason why some industry analysts believe a rumored DIRECTV-Dish merger would have difficulty winning federal approval. The elimination of one satellite service would further narrow the viewing choices for rural residents.
“The Only reason we don’t drop DIRECTV is because we Do Not have Internet Service that will work for good reasonable service,” Loretta Hankins wrote in the TV Answer Man reader forum. “If you don’t live in the city, country people are at a huge disadvantage! We would love to cancel Directv but it is what we can get in our area.”
Some rural subs who have posted messages here acknowledged they could move to areas where Internet is available. But they are content with forgoing some modern conveniences for the peace that a rural area can bring.
“We are off grid – there are zero services/utilities,” wrote JR Hill. “We have Dish for TV (dropped DTV two+ years ago). We have HughesNet for internet so there is no streaming here due to speed and data quotas. Overall we enjoy the quality of life much more than the gadgets.”
For these folks, satellite TV is the only reliable way to watch multi-channel television and, in areas which are a long distance from local station towers, any television at all. Even antennas won’t work for some.
So while DIRECTV and Dish subscribers will express their anger, which is quite justified and understandable under the circumstances, it’s not likely that many of them will actually cancel.
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Thank you Mr. Swann! You summed up why I am stuck with Dish…contract and poor streaming quality. In my case…13 months on my contract and I live in a small town where the streaming quality is not great even when paying for the fastest fiber optics service available. Our satellite ($107) and internet ($85) is more than the electric, natural gas, water and sewer bills combined. The channel package rates are reasonable. It is when you add things like HD service, dvr, additional tv’s, etc that the overall bill jumps up…not counting premium channels of which we have none.
Honestly, I would pay the $260 to get out of my contract if I could find something with the channels we watch and knew there wouldn’t be some imminent carriage dispute from another service. We’ve tried DirecTV, HULU, CBS All Access, cable, and now Dish. My husband even put an antenna on the roof for locals. Unfortunately, I live in the mountains and the locals are too far away so reception is hit or miss. I feel blasphemous saying this but DirecTV (the most expensive at $179) probably came closer than anything to meeting my wishes. Since then the $179 rate has jumped to $211 for the same service. Dish was great until the RSN’s and CBS were dropped.
BTW…someone on this site suggested canceling everything and reading a book! Done…I’m a book editor…spend 8+ hours reading daily!
Lot of costumer don’t have internet access shouldn’t be charged extra for the service and quit moving channels around for making a person difficult lot long distance from direction from the tower , and the area we don’t get from the cities and that’s is why we have chosen DirecTV – At and T Service we don’t need internet access we need local channels back on air 😔
You left out 1 last reason, it’s not dish or DirecTV at fault, it’s the greedy broadcaster using airwaves owned by the people charging unfair rates for signals you can pick up with a$40 antenna, not to mention the broadcasters sell ad space and make bank bank, then they have the nerve to charge so much, you as a broadcaster should be lucky a provider carries your channel, providers expand your reach making those ads lucrative, dish directtv mediacom, don’t pay, remind these broadcasters that without you, their ad space isn’t worth much…
You are spot on Sir. Why should we pay for over the air broadcast?
I love Dish and they are trying to hold the line on my overall costs. Reason #3 for staying? I haven’t lost any channels except FSN where I used to watch local Minnesota games and WGN, which I don’t watch. I live in Arlington, VA and our local sports are not on fox, so I still get local sports.
Oh, I know it’s not their fault. See, I stand to gain so much more by switching to streaming. I did the math, I’m paying about $30 more…for less, and a whole bunch of channels I’ve never watched on either Dish or DIRECTV. And this is with HBO Max.
Yes, the disconnection fee may he a couple hundred–depending on how many months left in your contract. the however it’s a one-time payment compared to the monthly payments of $80-$150–in the long run you actually save as well as have other options available.
Will be canceling Directv not happy with it have a 2 year contract first year price went up 2 times have been hearing it will go up again in January Directv sucks.
All this is a rip off of money hungry corporations, ought to be against the law to offer these channels then claim they are taking them off without a price compensation. Ready to pay the penalty and just get a antenna. Welcome to America were the middle class get screwed
I have installed dish and dtv over the last 15 years. Dish has becone a sales company requiring techs to sell in home items or lose their jobs. Att has basically chomed their techs out. These companies use to be great companies to work for but over time like everything they stop growing then die. They will soon both die because of greed and poor management. People with a contract can get out of because they meaning dish or dtv have breeched thier contract. I have heard of several people getting out of the contracts like this.
By the way….i cut the cord last year and spend less than 100 a month now instead of 250.
Bullcrap, channels are subject to change. You will not be released from your contract. I know, I am a loyalty dish agent., 😉 keep your service spend 25 add an antenna to get your locals for free then cancel you 12 add on fee to watch locals on dish.
I live in an area where we have a lot of hurricanes. When we do, it’s not unusual to be without electricity for two weeks. With our generater, we can watch TV. But if we didn’t have a dish, we couldn’t because there’s no netb when there’s no power. So l we still do a lot of streaming but we keep the basic package with Dish. You may say this is impractical and not a justifiable reason. But try sitting in your living room for two weeks with NO TV. Trust me, it makes for some looooong days.
We live in a hurricane prone area also. We have cable with AT&T–Direct TV and they dropped a basic local channel–KHOU TV channel 11 out of Houston Tx. We understood that when we signed our contract all local stations were included and now this! As far as I’m concerned this is a breach of our contract by and we’re getting screwed!
I think everyone that has canceled these services need to file class action lawsuits against the companies for breech of contracts. After all they say they will provide local channels but when they blackout that is a breech but they keep billing us don’t they?
Are they not breaking their contract without these stations
Yes they are braking the contract. Not you. You are not responsible for a contract when the company breached the contract themselves. I’m waiting on a class action lawsuit. Any attorneys out their willing to get this started as soon as possible.
Here in Georgia it is estimated that the two senate races are going to spend over $1B in advertising for the January 5 election. TEGNA/local NBC affiliate will not be getting as many of those dollars due, in part, to the loss in viewership due to the DTV dispute.
I wont cancel because my husband has dementia and if I change services he won’t be able to figure out where his channels are. Bought a new tv and that’s hard enough for him to figure out
I need my regular TV back I watch channel 13 news I watch General Hospital and I can’t get none of channel that ain’t right for them people to do that to Dish customer they should pay us for the inconvenience
To answer your question for one canceling a contract is expensive also there are only two providers in our area and in addition we just got a streaming service and it constantly buffers so the only thing we might be able to do is get an antenna if theirs and our internet works long enough to order it.
I mean I get it but it doesn’t make sense to me to leave Dish 8 months before our contract is up just the early term I ago in fee alone is quite large. Spectrum says they’ll cover that but only if you bundle all three services. Plus spectrums dvr in comparison is not so good to put it politely and for 2 of their dvrs it’s 30 bucks.
I’m not a huge fan of streaming services. I’ll never get peacock they ruined premiere league for me plus it’s on premium not basic pfft. Hulu just today revealed their dropping CBS and raising rates. In closing I don’t watch NBC that much. Twice a week and Wgn never so for my area and family it is keep dish. I enjoy their dvr, remote, customer service and tech specialist that come to our house and hook us up!
Spectrum does NOT offer the “WHOLE HOME” DVR feature
(Being able to Record a show in one room, and watch it in another)
Helli people remember some us live in rural area that has nothing else to offer. Also our internet isn’t strong enough to stream. So yes we need satellite.
Those local channels do not have to pay broadcasting fees. Less than 20 years ago they were happy to have satellite TV put out their programming for ad space. Now, they want close to $20 BILLION to keep them on the air. Not $20 MILLION. $20 BILLION… people complain about rates going up. Here is why…
These local companies are government subsidized. Do NOT pay broadcasting fees, make sure that the companies are forced by FCC to keep their advertising in.
PS most of the companies will compensate you in some way for the loss of those channels. But, be assured they are fighting for you. To keep the prices down, otherwise you will leave over price increases.
I left directv because AT&T has ran it in the ground. In March of 2020 and went with Orby tv much better service in my opinion, haven’t had to worry about black outs. Works great in bad weather, could not be happier. Was with directv for 18 years, got tired of AT&T lies. Just my 2 cents.
Leaving this month , my promo code or or what else you do to have you bill less is up, lost 13 watched a lot , Over this
Considering dropping dish. They are sending a tech to install outside antenna at their cost. I told them I would give them a try and would refuse to pay the remainder of my contract if I cancelled early, due to the fact they had defaulted on their obligation. Not me. They have given me a $25 discount this month and free installation of the antenna. So,wait and see how it works.
I feel like the contract we apply for had CBS . Dish is breaking the contract we signed up for. By taking the channels away but what use to pay for them still .i call them tomorrow to see if i can get a discount on my bill because im paying for something that dish can’t provided.
No one here should be misled: it is very clear that the broadcast company controls what goes on your to, not the provider. People complain about commercials, or reruns. No matter where you turn you are still getting the same channels & shows. And for those of your that think streaming is any better, just look at who owns these streams, and calculate how much extra internet you’ll ge paying for. Dish gives a price guarantee in exchange for a contract, yes. But guess what: in 2022 you’ll still be paying 2020 prices. Hulu and YouTube live both raised rates 3 times this year, and both have programming takedowns currently. Blame the government for allowing a free service to be charged a fee, and blame Big TV broadcast corporations for being so absurdly greedy in the middle of a quarantine. Imagine if Dish or DTV told you they were raising your rates $145 dollars because nexstar or tegna wants a $1billion increase. And you TV Man, start explaining the details better about the reasons why these broadcast companies are attempting to squeeze America for their massive bloated purchases that they now cannot afford. Fox Sports Regional for Sinclair, the $12 billion spending spree by Nexstar that has them swimming in debt. Great business minds thinking they can pass the buck onto Mom and Dad. It’s disgraceful and you should point that out EVERY CHANCE YOU GET.
Thank you!!! You beat me to the punch. There is absolutely zero language in your contracts that guarantee specific channels. No company would put that in writing. That would be corporate suicide. Good luck breaking your contracts as well as the alleged class-action lawsuits.
With that, I’ve been a Dish customer for 16 years and have no plans of dropping. I’m in the IT field and know all about streaming. Streaming is fun, but none of the services truly replace what Dish offers. NONE. The hardware is better than any other provider and their DVR service/software is solid. I had DTV for a year when I moved states and had to stay in an apartment while finding a new house. DTV hardware and software are garbage.
I love Netflix, but that isn’t a Dish replacement. I don’t care for Hulu or the other services because none of them have the channels or DVR capabilities that Dish offers.
I’m not saying Dish is perfect or inexpensive. They have issues just like every other corporation. I’m willing to bounce if a true competitor comes along. As it stands, DTV, ATT, Comcast, Spectrum, and the many streaming services fall well short of matching or beating the capabilities of Dish. I’m not about to blame Dish for the greedy carriage deals.
I just cancelled my ATT TV and I also understand the issue of finding something else. Even in a large city it is hard. Once again the corporations have us by the balls.
Actually, you’re wrong about the two year contract. When they fail to provide channels you subscribed to them to feature and they’re not there, effectively they’re voiding their own contracts. They literally will not tell you this but, they will also not deny it. We left Dish about a decade ago, we were in the middle of the contract, no bill ever came. They’d lost FX at the time. Stayed with DIRECTV for nearly a decade, they begged me to stay, they’d lost channels. Had renewed the contract for upgrades, no bill. I’m very strongly considering leaving satellite this week and going to Hulu + Live TV. I’m over these disputes!
Mike, the contract includes language saying programming may change.
Exactly! No company would allow language to be added to these contracts setting themselves for litigation. What lawyer would allow that? I would love to know where all of these people are getting this from that our contracts are being voided when channels are dropped.
We have Dish Network and don’t watch many of the stations that were blacked out anyway. We cannot receive ANY OTA channels with an antenna where we live. We just signed up for CBS All Access for $6 a month (no contract) and hope that Dish keeps fighting the good fight to keep from raising our rates. Why not leave Dish entirely? How about a 16-tuner DVR and wireless “Joeys” to all of our other TVs with no house wiring necessary? That’s why.
All the companies that pay for advertising should lower their amount they are paying there are a lot less people seeing their adds now I bet if that happens they will get this settled fast
A BIG reason why those like me WONT terminate the contract is due to the exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket. Without the Sunday Ticket, you would see a massive decrease in viewership.
This blackout shows that they do not care about the customer!!!😡😡
Direct TV does provide an alternate channel Letco to stream local channels during this dispute, but it went out on me during the last minute of a close game on Sunday Night Football
I have been a Direct TV Customer since Day1-over 20 years and cannot recall something like this ever happening
It really sucks for us on limited income to be charged for channels we cannot see anymore. This is outrageous and we are fuming, to put it mildly. Taking advantage is really bad.
I have Dish and I don’t even miss the channels that have been blacked out. Dish could just cave and pay these networks more but that would cause the price to increase for Dish cus maybe not immediately but in due time.
I’m glad Dish fights to keep prices down especially by networks that can be picked up for free over the air
The article says they have lost over 230 channels
I lost a few channels but the thing is I don’t miss them.
I have a few other hundred channels and I don’t watch all of those either
So stop trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill
You probably write for the networks that are the real problem.
Simply for me on DirecTV is Sunday Ticket. I have YouTube TV, Hulu+Disney+ESPN+, Netflix, Amazon Firestick which are all great but then theirs the delay (Buffering) when watching Sports (Big for me) or just streaming. I have two routers in my house so I know thats not the issue and have Fios optics. If it wasn’t for the Buffering and Sunday Ticket I would drop DirecTV after nearly 20yrs.
FYI, you don’t need DIRECTV to get the Sunday Ticket. We left 15 months ago and for the second year in a row, watching it via Xbox. You can subscribe to get it without being a DIRECTV customer.
This should trigger an ambulance chaser to contest the agreement with a class action law suit. Get an off-air antenna people!
Some of us that live in rural areas cannot stream and mountains are in the way of using an antenna, satellite was our only option,
We also live in a rural area and rely on HughesNet for our internet. HighesNet is slug slow, buffers constantly and Netflix crashes constantly. We lose our power for a week at a time due to snowstorms and use a generator to power our tv, computer (run business from our home). The kicker is the USDA gave a huge grant in 2015 of 2.9 BILLION (tax dollars) to provide high speed internet access to rural America and close the digital divide. That would enable millions of Americans to cut the cord. That has not happened otherwise we would simply stream. Now the USDA is offering millions of grant money (again our tax dollars) to once again expand internet to rural areas. I get charged by the GB with HughesNet. I cannot get any other service where I live. The antenna does not work when you live in the woods. We rely on NBC for our local news. As a business owner I’ve gone out of my way to work with my clients during this difficult time and have reduced rates.
I just canceled directv after being a customer for over 10 years. The customer service rep was clearly on a speaker phone, hard to understand, and couldn’t have cared or tried less. I disagree with previous posters that directv or dish is not at fault – both parties of a failed negotiation carry fault. In this case, I pay (or I use to pay) directv to handle these things for me – that was part of their job that I expect to be done, and I’m their boss, plain and simple. They;re fired, and I stand by my decision.