TV Answer Man, I have had Dish for many years, but I don’t know if I can stay with them if they don’t have ESPN and ABC. Do you think Dish will go out of business if they don’t get the channels back? I think a lot of people will quit them. — Marla, Big Spring, Texas. 

Marla, Dish and its live streaming service, Sling TV, lost all Disney-owned channels early this morning after it could not reach a new carriage agreement with Disney. The list of missing channels includes such top destinations as the ESPN suite of networks, the local ABC network affiliates in eight markets, FX and the Disney children-oriented networks. (See the complete list here in our article.)

Update: Dish and Disney strike new deal.

The fee fight leaves a huge hole in the Dish lineup, which undoubtedly will trigger some subscriber defections if the channels do not return sooner than later. At this point, it’s difficult to say how the dispute will last, but Dish is notorious for playing hardball in carriage scraps so buckle up.

However, I don’t think Dish is in any danger of going out of business without the Disney channels, or even losing a large number of subscribers unless the blackout extends beyond a month or so. You have to remember that many of Dish’s subscribers are locked in two-year contracts with termination penalties. That’s been a proven method for Dish to reduce subscriber churn.

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In addition, many of Dish’s subscribers live in rural areas where video options are limited due to a lack of Internet or cable TV access. In some neighborhoods, it’s Dish and DIRECTV and that’s it. These folks don’t have the luxury to drop a TV service hastily if they want to watch quality television.

Bottom line: Dish has some time to play with as it tries to resolve the Disney fight. But with the company losing roughly nine percent of its subscriber base in the last year, it can’t wait too long.

To find out if the Disney fee fight will hurt Sling TV, click here.

Marla, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann