CBS Reports Spike In All Access Subs During Ongoing AT&T Blackout

Following remarks on Wednesday by AT&T chief Randall Stephenson, CBS today released what it dubbed a “fact sheet” about the blackout resulting from an impasse in the two parties' negotiations on a new retransmission agreement.

In an analyst call for Q2, Stephenson said that AT&T had made a “fair” offer five days ago in an effort to end that stalemate, but had heard “crickets” back from the network.

CBS programming has been blacked out on AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse platforms in 17 major markets since July 20. In addition, the blackout extends to 117 CBS stations and affiliates on DirecTV Now, according to CBS.

In total, reports have put the number of AT&T subscribers affected at about 6.5 million.

In its “fact sheet” release, CBS pointed out that its programming is available by switching providers or via and CBS All Access — and reported that All Access saw “a dramatic spike in new subscribers this past weekend compared to the same weekend a year ago.”



CBS didn’t quantify the spike in numbers or percentage terms.

However, it said that more than 250,000 calls were placed to its 1-855-5-Keep-CBS phone line in under a week, and that social media posts about the blackout have “reached a potential audience of more than 35 million.”

CBS also took several other swings at AT&T.

The network said that AT&T has dropped 178 stations in more than 120 markets across 14 programmers during 2019 alone, whereas CBS reached more than 300 retransmission deals with more than 145 other partners during the seven-year term of its recently expired contract with AT&T.

CBS also mentioned AT&T’s “public contract disputes” with Viacom and A&E during 2019.

CBS maintains that it’s seeking “fair market value” — “market rates similar to what AT&T's competitors believe our programming is worth” — in its renegotiation with AT&T.

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.

The network also said that it “remains ready and available to negotiate, and as of today, its offer of an unconditional 30-day extension still stands.”

CBS offered AT&T a 19-day extension of the existing deal prior to its expiration on June 30, and on July 19 offered a 30-day extension of the expired deal, according to the network’s statement.

AT&T rejected that offer and took CBS off its systems,” asserts CBS, adding that AT&T had offered a six-day extension, but it was contingent on CBS accepting all of AT&T's terms and conditions.

All of which might make some wonder if Stephenson’s expression of optimism on Wednesday about the two parties soon reaching an agreement might perhaps have been a bit premature.
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