TV Answer Man, I read all your articles on DIRECTV and Fox Sports, but what about us poor people who have been without our local Fox station for weeks now?! Is there any news on that? Are they close to a settlement? — Teresa, Providence.
Teresa, DIRECTV has been without 25 Mission-owned local stations since October 21 due to a fee dispute between the two companies. The stations include network affiliates for CBS, ABC, Fox and ABC, which means that DIRECTV subscribers in the Mission markets have lost the World Series, six weekends of college and NFL football and now the first few weeks of the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament from Qatar. (You can see a list of the Mission stations here. The blackout also affects DIRECTV Stream and U-verse.)
However, there has been one development that could influence when DIRECTV and Mission come to terms.
Fox on Sunday issued a warning that DIRECTV, U-verse and DIRECTV Stream could lose all of Fox Sports by midnight on December 2 due to a separate carriage dispute. The blackout, if it occurs, would include Fox-owned network affiliates in 18 markets, FS1, FS2, the Big Ten Network, Fox Deportes, and Fox Soccer Plus.
How would the Fox Sports fee fight affect the Mission blackout?
By not resolving the Mission dispute, DIRECTV has left itself more vulnerable to the attack from Fox Sports. The satcaster already has a significant number of subscribers upset over Mission and now they could lose Fox Sports as well. You can only ask people to be patient for so long.
Consequently, DIRECTV is under greater pressure to settle with Fox Sports than it normally would be. It doesn’t want two impactful carriage disputes involving local stations at the same time, particularly in December when those stations will broadcast everything from pro and college football to the World Cup.
However, the Fox Sports agreement is the more expensive one so it would behoove DIRECTV to settle the Mission fee fight first to give it more flexibility in the Fox Sports negotiations.
I have no inside knowledge that DIRECTV is thinking this way. But as someone who has reported on these carriage disputes for decades, I could see the company getting more aggressive now with Mission to end that dispute in an attempt to soften Fox’s demands.
As usual, the TV Answer Man will monitor this situation and report back here if anything changes in either carriage battle.
Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann