By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, we missed last week’s first Sunday of NFL games on DIRECTV because of the battle over money. Are we going to miss this Sunday’s games, too?! — Reuben, Sacramento, California.
Reuben, DIRECTV has been missing 159 Nexstar-owned local stations since July 2 due to the carriage dispute between the companies. The satcaster is also without roughly 30 more network affiliates because of separate fee fights with Mission and White Knight. (Nexstar manages the 30 stations.) The three blackouts also affect DIRECTV Stream and U-verse and include affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS, the CW and Fox. If a deal is not reached by Sunday, DIRECTV viewers in those markets who are missing CBS, Fox or NBC will lose another Sunday of NFL football. (It’s unclear if a new DIRECTV-Nexstar agreement will cover Mission and White Knight as well.)
But Nexstar senior advisor Tom Carter expressed hope this week that a deal to end the 10-week carriage dispute with DIRECTV could be in the works. Carter told a Bank of America investors conference that “progress has been made. We’re not going to do a bad deal. But our expectation is that we’re going to reach an agreement at some point, hopefully sooner than later because everyone agrees that it’s not in anyone’s best interest to alienate the consumer.” The TV Answer Man asked DIRECTV whether it agreed with Carter’s assessment and a company spokesman would only say that “we remain in discussions and don’t have anything additional to share at this time.”
The good news here is that neither DIRECTV nor Nexstar, via Carter, took the opportunity to bash the other, which has been a common occurrence since the dispute began. (And even before it began. DIRECTV charged last year that Nexstar was responsible for the Mission and White Knight blackouts.) That’s a sign that the companies may finally be putting the rhetoric aside to work together for a settlement.
However, I would say the chances of a deal before Sunday is 50-50 at best. Thanks to the White Knight and Mission fights, this is a more complicated negotiation that most and the two companies have a history of contentiousness. But it’s reasonable to hope for a settlement by Sunday thanks to Carter’s statement. Neither company wants to let another NFL Sunday go by without a deal if they can avoid it.
Reuben, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann