Over the weekend, CBS and AT&T brought 2019’s to-date tally of TV station blackouts to 214.
As of 2 a.m. July 20, CBS went dark for some 6.5 million subscribers to AT&T’s DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse services in some 14 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas.
Negotiations over carriage terms failed after days of public volleys between the nation’s most-watched TV network and the owner of DirecTV, the nation’s biggest traditional pay TV platform. CBS has 119 million households, about 90 million of which receive it through paid services. DirecTV has 19 million subscribers.
In a release last week, CBS said it was “negotiating resolutely and in good faith,” and asserted that AT&T was continuing “to propose unfair terms well below those agreed to by its competitors.”
AT&T had been paying CBS slightly over $2 per AT&T subscriber each month, and CBS has been pushing for about $3, according to unnamed sources cited by The New York Times.
In addition to a smaller fee increase, AT&T, for its part, wants to be able to sell CBS’s All Access as a separate option — possibly to gain the flexibility to remove CBS from its basic bundle, per the report.
DirecTV customers looking to view CBS programming are being advised to sign up for CBS All Access — or to try Locast, a free service enabling local broadcast stations to be viewed digitally, via the internet, within their specific markets.
In no-coincidence moves, AT&T added the Locast interactive app to its DirecTV and U-verse receivers on May 30, and in late June announced that it was donating $500,000 to Locast’s operator, the nonprofit advocacy group Sports Fans coalition NY (SFCNY). Locast is now available to more than 32 million users in 13 cities.
AT&T also continues to offer its complimentary Local Channel Connector service when a local station is otherwise unavailable. The Local Channel Connector provides stations' over-the-air digital signals via a free digital broadcast antenna and enables customers to select channels using the program guide.
Meanwhile, in a blackout that’s been dragging on since July 4, AT&T paid subscribers across 20 local markets have been unable to view 120 Nexstar-owned stations.
Nexstar claims that it offered AT&T an unconditional extension to enable continued viewer access for 30 days while negotiations continued; AT&T claims that the offer was actually conditionedon Nexstar’s desired higher rates being applied retroactively.As of last week, the two sides reportedly had resumed negotiations.