The Federal Communications Commission wants to pay back TV subscribers as a result of those regular blackouts that occur between pay TV providers and TV stations and network groups.
Will consumers rejoice here -- or just shrug their shoulders?
TV blackout battles can be more complicated by competing marketing and press releases from both sides -- which leads to consumers scratching their heads over who is right and wrong over too much business insider stuff.
Everyone tries to address the bottom line: What will these mean in terms of their monthly TV/entertainment bills?
But over the last three years -- with the sharp rise of streaming options -- consumers can now factor in many new options. Do they really even care about these inside business battles?
This might be true even if most of the battles are short-lived.
The recent, high-profile battle between Walt Disney and Charter Communications is one glaring example -- as that stalemate got dangerously close to the start of the NFL football season, with the first “Monday Night Football” and NFL being the major ongoing, highly viewed programming in any given week.
The common deadline around many of these carriage-deal renewals for starting a new TV season still comes with fresh, new prime-time programming. The Disney-Charter stalemate lasted 10 days.
But in terms of longevity, there has been worse. Last month's Nexstar Media Group and DirecTV blackout lasted 76 days -- over two months -- one of the biggest blackouts ever, affecting 68% of all U.S. homes.
That stalemate ended mid-September -- just days before the prime-time season ended. Do you think weary cable/satellite/pay TV consumers get this? They have seen this movie before.
There have been around 1,300 TV blackouts from 2010 to 2019, according to the American Television Alliance (ATVA), an advocacy group representing cable and satellite distributors.
Both sides are to blame. Broadcast TV stations and networks make money and so do cable and satellite pay TV services -- several billion dollars over the years as well, right?
“We’d like to see the focus on the broadcasters -- who increased retransmission consent fees from $200 million in 2006 to $11.7 billion in 2019, an unbelievable 5,359% – rather than just on the companies that are negotiating to keep prices down for their customers,” says the ATVA in a recent release.
Fair enough. Split the difference.
If not, the marketplace will move more quickly to places where blackouts will fade into the background.