By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, didn’t DIRECTV and Nexstar have one of these blackouts before? I think that was a long one, too. Do you remember that one? I think you’re right that they don’t negotiate well together. — Steve, Kansas City. 

Steve, DIRECTV on July 2 lost 159 Nexstar-owned network affiliates due to fight over carriage fees. The blackout, which also affects U-verse and DIRECTV Stream, includes stations for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW. You can see a station list here. The two companies have a long history of bad blood including lawsuits and complaints filed with the Federal Communications Commission. And, yes, there was a previous blackout as well. On July 3, 2019, DIRECTV lost 120 Nexstar-owned local stations when the companies couldn’t reach a new agreement. (AT&T then owned 100 percent of DIRECTV and was its chief negotiator.) That was almost exactly four years from the day when this carriage dispute began.

Like this fee fight, the companies engaged in a war of words until they finally reached a settlement on August 29, 2019, seven weeks after it began. That was less than one week before the beginning of the 2019 NFL season. I wrote this week that it’s likely that the current impasse will continue until NFL games begin, and I think how the last dispute ended supports that theory. It will take the opening of the NFL season in September to force both companies to find common ground. DIRECTV can’t afford to have so many viewers of Fox, CBS and NBC miss even a single NFL game while Nexstar is equally dependent on the NFL’s broadcasts for ratings and advertising.

Until then, while some viewers will complain, the level of protest will be relatively minimal compared to what it will be in late August. Consequently, DIRECTV and Nexstar will be under less pressure to settle until then.

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

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— Phillip Swann