Dish is now without at least 106 channels due to 11 different carriage battles that span from last Wednesday night to 30 months ago. The blacked-out channels include 75 local network affiliates, and 31 regional sports networks.
Update, February 4: The number of missing channels has been reduced to 39. Dish and Tegna have signed a new carriage agreement.
The oldest fight dates back to July 2019 when Dish, and its live streaming service, Sling TV, lost the then-Fox Sports-named regional sports channels. (Sinclair, which now owns the channels, has renamed them, Bally Sports.) Despite lengthy negotiations last year between Dish and Sinclair, the satcaster did not sign a new pact for the RSNs and there’s no indication they will return anytime soon. (Dish last year did renew its local channel agreement with Sinclair.)
The most recent fee fight started last Wednesday when Dish lost seven Block Television–owned local channels when the companies failed to reach a new deal.
In most of the battles, if not all, money is the root of disagreement. Dish has contended the other side is asking for an unreasonable increase in fees while the broadcaster/programmer usually counters that it’s no more than what others have paid.
Dish is right that rival pay TV operators have engaged in more carriage battles in the last few years as they look to reduce expenses to offset shrinking subscriber revenues triggered by cord cutting. But there’s no question that Dish is the king of the fee fight. In addition to the 11 ongoing battles, Dish is missing several regional sports channels in disputes that date back several years. And at one point a year ago, Dish was missing 236 channels due to carriage rows, although that number was somewhat misleading because a fight with Nexstar included 165 local channels.
Dish maintains that the hardline stance it takes in negotiations enables it to keep subscriber fees down. But Dish’s subscribers often take to this site, and others, to express their frustration with the constant interruption (or elimination) of favorite channels. Many say they would cancel Dish if they were not in a two-year contract that includes an early termination penalty.
Here is a rundown of the 106 channels that are now missing on Dish due to carriage fights over the last few years:
Circle City Broadcasting — 2 local channels
University of Missouri — 2 local channels
Altitude Sports — 1 regional sports channel
MASN — 1 regional sports channel
NESN — 1 regional sports channel
Root Sports — 1 regional sports channel
Update: Dish also lost NBC Sports Chicago in October 2019 so the number is 107.
Update #2: Dish is also missing three Fort Myers, Florida local stations, bringing the total to 110.
Update #3: With the Block settlement, Dish is now missing at least 103 channels.
Update #4: February 4, 2022: Dish and Tegna have signed a new deal. Blackout is over.
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— Phillip Swann