The sides struck a deal late on Christmas Eve to restore 164 Nexstar stations and WGN America to the satcaster’s lineup. WGN America, which has transformed its primetime lineup into a national newscast, will also launch on Dish’s virtual MVPD, Sling, early next year.
Nexstar stations went dark Dec. 2 on Dish after the sides could not come to terms on a retransmission consent deal for Nexstar’s stations that cover nearly two-thirds of American households in markets large and small across the country. The blackout affected about 5 million Dish subscribers.
Dish has been the most pugnacious of the established MVPD providers in driving hard bargains on carriage fees and retrans consent coin for broadcasters. Dish’s core satellite service has shed subscribers in recent years but it is still only one of two (alongside DirecTV) traditional MVPDs with national scope.
Dish at the end of the third quarter had about 9 million subscribers for its traditional satcaster service and about 2.5 million subs for the Sling streaming package.
As such, the loss of distribution on Dish’s subscriber base was blow for Nexstar. The Irving, Texas-based broadcast giant noted that it has secured more than 250 linear and virtual MVPD retrans pacts in the past three months, covering some 90% of the company’s total footprint. That message was as much for Wall Street as it was for Nexstar customers.
“We regret the inconvenience experienced by our viewers and look forward to again providing them with leading network and local programming,” Nexstar said of the Dish agreement.