CBS/Dish Network Carriage Issues: Show Me The Money

Potential “blackouts” resulting from TV networks and pay TV providers not coming to financial terms seem to crop up this time of year. Here is a rerun.

CBS Corp. and Dish Network are at odds about a future deal to carry CBS networks on Dish services. If this scenario sounds similar, you wouldn’t be wrong. CBS and Dish went through this just three years ago.

One particular point to consider in all this: a virtual/digital pay TV deal with Dish.

While CBS has agreements with most of the new virtual multichannel video program distributors -- DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, and PlayStation Vue -- it doesn’t have one with Dish’s Sling TV, now the oldest service of live, linear pay TV networks.

For the last several years, retransmission fee revenues from traditional pay TV providers have been increasingly important for TV networks and TV stations.

This comes as Dish Network -- among other cable, satellite, and telco pay TV providers -- has seen steep declines in pay TV subscribers. Since the first of this year, S&P’s Kagan says a collective 2.9 million subscribers have left traditional pay TV platforms.



For their part, TV networks and stations want to set a base for new long-term digital service fees. For CBS -- still the most pure-play TV-centric company -- fees from virtual pay TV providers may play an even bigger role.

After much effort over the past decade or more, broadcast TV networks have achieved near parity with cable networks when it comes to deals from traditional pay TV platforms. (CBS and others would say those fees should be higher, given their respective higher share of viewership.)

One more thing: Sling TV and other virtual pay TV providers don’t have near the profit margins of traditional pay TV services -- like Dish Network’s satellite service. Sling TV has profit pressure to keep costs and expenditures at a minimum for the long-term.

No matter. Consumers still see the NFL on CBS -- especially on Thanksgiving Day.

Building on this ongoing drama that pops up from time to time, they might also want a lingering answer to some main questions: Who are the real villains here -- and victims -- interrupting my joyous holiday food and family episode?

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