TV Answer Man, I am worried about Fox leaving DIRECTV as a Sunday Ticket subscriber. How would this affect the Sunday Ticket? Would we lose all the Fox games if Fox removes its channels from DIRECTV and there’s a blackout? Please let us know as soon as possible. — Cheryl, Fairfax, Virginia.
Cheryl, as you know, Fox yesterday began posting viewer alerts that DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream and U-verse this weekend could lose the Fox-owned local affiliates in 18 markets as well as FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, Fox Deportes, and Fox Soccer Plus. The network is negotiating a new carriage pact with DIRECTV and it says the deadline for a new deal is Friday, December 2 at midnight.
“Despite our best efforts for months, we regret that DIRECTV continues to demand unprecedented special treatment that represents a wholesale change to our long-standing relationship and is out of step with marketplace terms,” the network said in a statement released Sunday.
That sounds like a Fox blackout this weekend on the three DIRECTV-owned TV services is likely, although DIRECTV says it believes a new agreement can be reached and this veteran industry reporter opined earlier today that the Fox warning might be part of a larger strategic ploy.
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Still, if you’re a sports fan, the dispute might have you reaching for an extra Alka Seltzer tab today. Fox next month will be the TV home of NFL football, college football conference title games, and the final weeks of the FIFA World Cup. Without Fox on DIRECTV, December could feel even colder than normal.
(DIRECTV subscribers in the 18 markets where Fox owns the local affiliates would be blacked out. The other Fox affiliates are under different ownership and carriage pacts.)
And what about DIRECTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package, which includes out-of-market Sunday afternoon games from Fox and CBS? Would Sunday Ticket subscribers lose the Fox games, too?
Well, Cheryl, you’ll be happy to hear that the Sunday Ticket contract is a separate licensing agreement from the Fox agreement. (I confirmed that today with DIRECTV.) That means if you lose Fox, you will still get Fox’s Sunday Ticket games, minus, of course, the local broadcasts, which are typically blacked out on the Ticket anyway.
Yes, I know that might seem unfair if you lose your local Fox affiliate. But even if DIRECTV isn’t carrying your local Fox affiliate, it’s still required by the Ticket contract to black out games that are broadcast on your local Fox affiliate. The Ticket is strictly an out-of-market package and no exceptions can be made.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor the Fox-DIRECTV dispute and report back here if anything significant changes. Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
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