CBS, Dish End Blackout for Customers After Reaching Fee DealBy and
Standoff had threatened to leave Dish subscribers without NFL
Network, satellite TV provider pact doesn’t include Sling TV
Dish Network Corp. and CBS Corp. agreed to a new multi-year contract, ending a blackout that would have left millions of satellite-TV subscribers without the nation’s most-watched network and its popular football programming.
The agreement, which does not include online channels on Dish’s Sling TV, allows Dish to use CBS content across various U.S. cities, according to a statement late Thursday. No financial details where provided. CBS and its local stations in 18 cities were pulled from Dish’s service late Monday after failing to agree on a price that Dish would pay to carry the broadcast network.
Media companies and pay-TV providers are tussling over how to split revenue from cable and satellite customers as subscriptions drop. Dish has lost 468,000 TV subscribers this year as people switch to streaming options like Netflix. CBS has fared better, with revenue up 1.3 percent as fees from viewers and deals to license programs have more than offset falling audience ratings and ad sales.
The standoff threatened to cause an uproar during one of the most popular viewing times of the year, featuring big college football games throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, and an NFL doubleheader coming up this Sunday. Now subscribers will be able to see those games, though the agreement came too late for them to watch the Dallas Cowboys against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.
The fact that CBS continues to keep its channels off Dish’s Sling TV highlights how selective the broadcast network has been when making online TV partnerships. CBS offers All Access, its own web-based streaming service starting at $5.99 a month. And after holding out for months, CBS agreed in August to provide channels to AT&T’s DirecTV Now service. It’s also available on Google’s YouTube TV service.
Both companies faced risks if the blackout continued. Dish’s 13.2 million customers are important to advertisers on CBS, which also counts on the satellite carrier’s subscriber fees. Dish faced a backlash from angry subscribers who couldn’t get the most-watched U.S. TV network and have more ways to cut their pay-TV subscriptions and replace them with cheaper online entertainment.