×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox Regional Sports Nets Go Dark on Dish

Contract talks between satellite-broadcaster Dish and a passel of regional sports cable networks in process of being sold by Walt Disney have reached an impasse, meaning that Dish subscribers are at present not able to gain access to outlets such as Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio.

In almost all cases, the 16 regional sports networks, which are being supervised by separate executives than the ones who operate Disney’s cable networks, are no longer available on Dish or its Sling broadband offering. YES, the cable network that shows Yankees games, among other programming, is off of Sling, but available on Dish.

“Sports programming, no surprise, is the most expensive programming content and the most expensive part of the customer’s bill,” says  Andy LeCuyer, senior vice president of programming for Dish, in an interview. “It’s not fundamentally fair to force the vast majority of viewers who choose not to receive that content to pay for it.”

The fracture is the latest break between programmers and distributors of content at a time when the revenue media companies wring from satellite and cable companies has become much more desirable. Audiences are migrating to new streaming services, putting pressure on the ability of TV networks to get revenue from advertising and syndication.

Dish, which in recent years has developed a reputation as a hard bargainer in these types of negotiations, could face unique pressures in this particular one. Regional sports outlets are prized by local fans of teams around the nation. The sports networks are often more expensive to carry than bigger entertainment networks, but the viewers who rely on them often prize them more than cable outlets that carry news, documentary programming or movies. As more consumers opts for broadband delivery of TV, however, cable and satellite companies have found carriage of the regional sports outlets more onerous.

This isn’t Dish’s only squabble in recent months. The satellite company hasn’t had WarnerMedia’s HBO or Cinemax available since November, the result of a breakdown in talks between Dish and the AT&T-owned media company. Dish recently ended a  carriage fight with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision after nine months.

Other companies are also fighting over carriage. AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse are not currently carrying CBS stations, a move that affects at least six million subscribers in various markets. Nexstar, the local TV station owner, is also off AT&T’s properties.

Ownership of the regional sports properties is expected to transfer from Disney to other companies in weeks to come. Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to buy 21 of the networks from Disney in a deal valued at $10.6 billion. Meanwhile, YES is being bought by a group that includes the Yankees and e-commerce giant Amazon, as well as Sinclair, which will have a smaller ownership stake in the venture.

Dish said it had hoped to strike an extension agreement with the regional sports outlets, but was not able to do so. The company offered a short-term contract extension that it said had a built-in rate adjustment and would have allowed customers to continue to watch the networks while talks continued.   Dish’s LeCuyer said the sports-cable negotiators suggested an extension that would have ended right before  the opening of the 2020 Major League Baseball season – a move that would have put Dish in the position of walking away from discussions just before baseball fans rely on the sports outlets for access to local games. “Calling that an extension may be a little bit of a stretch,” he says.

The executive says Dish is always willing to hold further talks on the matter, but at present, “the ball is in their court.”

 

 

 

More TV

  • The Flash -- "Crisis on Infinite

    'Crisis on Infinite Earths' Recap: A Rewritten Destiny Brings Another Superhero Death

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three,” “The Flash” episode of the 2019 “Arrowverse” crossover. Tuesday night was the official midpoint of the ambitious “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossovers, with an episode of “The Flash” that also marked the final episode of the year for the [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER tree identity ana

    'The Masked Singer' Reveals the Identity of the Tree

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead, if you have not watched the episode of “The Masked Singer,” which aired on Dec. 10 on Fox. “The Masked Singer” has sent home another character — and more importantly, has unmasked that contestant. On Tuesday’s episode, titled “A Pain in the Mask,” the tree was revealed to be [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER semi finals

    Everything To Know About 'The Masked Singer' Semi-Finals

    Television’s breakout reality show, “The Masked Singer,” wraps up its second season, unmasking a winner, next week — but first, the quirky competition show will celebrate the holidays. Teeing up the grand finale of the inarguable hit series, Fox is giving extra airtime to the show this week with a two-night event. Tuesday night, the [...]

  • daredevil Marvel Netflix

    Marvel to Shutter Television Division

    Marvel’s television division is officially winding down. Variety has learned that Marvel Television will no longer be developing any new series beyond the shows that are currently in production. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, Marvel will eliminate a number of positions in the near future as a result of the cessation [...]

  • Kaya Scodelario

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Spinning Out' With 'Skins' Star Kaya Scodelario Gets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix reveals the premiere date for “Spinning Out,” and USA reveals a first look at Ethan Hawke’s return to “The Purge” universe.  DATES Netflix‘s “Spinning Out,“ starring “Skins’s” Kaya Scodelario and from showrunners Lara Olsen (“Reign”) and Samantha Stratton, premieres Jan. 1. The series follows Scodelario’s Kat, a high-level figure skater [...]

  • Philip MckeonPhilip Mckeon

    'Alice' Child Star Philip McKeon Dies at 55

    Philip McKeon, known for playing the son of Linda Lavin’s titular character in the classic CBS sitcom “Alice,” has died. He was 55. The actor died Tuesday morning in Texas following a longtime illness, family spokesman Jeff Ballard confirmed to Variety. “We are all beyond heartbroken and devasted over Phil’s passing,” said Ballard. “His wonderful [...]

  • Vanna White

    Vanna White Hosts 'Wheel of Fortune' for the First Time in 37 Years

    Vanna White, who’s been a staple on “Wheel of Fortune” for almost 40 years, stepped in to host the long-running game show for the first time, as host Pat Sajak underwent emergency surgery. “Tonight’s my first night of hosting Wheel! I’m excited and nervous! Stay tuned!” White tweeted on Monday The episodes, which were filmed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content