By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, what I can’t understand is why DIRECTV and Dish always seem to be in a blackout situation and cable isn’t. Why does satellite always seem to be unable to settle these local station fights? Cable doesn’t seem to have this problem? Why?! – Carrie, Kansas City.
Carrie, DIRECTV and Dish are both now in lengthy carriage disputes with local broadcasters. DIRECTV is missing almost 200 channels due to its fights with Nexstar/Mission/White Knight and Dish subscribers are blacked out from about 40 locals because of scraps with Cox Media and Mission/White Knight. The fee fights are particularly frustrating because there’s no indication that they will end anytime soon.
I’ve received a handful of e-mails suggesting that the satellite TV providers are inept in these negotiations while cable operators are able to settle carriage disputes without issue, or at least, lengthy blackouts. For starters, cable TV operators (and Verizon and live streaming services) have blackouts, too, sometimes with the same broadcasters that are currently engaged in fights with DIRECTV and Dish. But I think it’s fair to say that the satellite TV industry has more carriage blackouts than its rivals in cable, telco and streaming. This is in part because Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen is arguably the industry’s toughest negotiator, which has led to numerous carriage fights between his company and everyone from local broadcasters to HBO to the regional sports networks.
But in the last few years, DIRECTV has shown an increased willingness to allow carriage battles to result in blackout with fights with Newsmax, Bloomberg, and Tegna as well as the Nexstar, Mission and White Knight disputes. The rapid decline in subscribers for both DIRECTV and Dish is likely influencing the companies’ decisions to play hardball in negotiations. Cable TV is losing subscribers, too, but cable ops have flourishing Internet divisions to help offset the losses. The satcasters are more dependent on their video businesses, which is why Dish has been busily developing a 5G network to diversify the company.
What do you think? Does satellite TV have more blackouts than cable? You can offer your comments below:
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— Phillip Swann