Fox Regional Sports Nets Go Dark on Dish

Contract talks between satellite-broadcaster Dish and a passel of regional sports cable networks in process of being sold by Walt Disney have reached an impasse, meaning that Dish subscribers are at present not able to gain access to outlets such as Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio.

In almost all cases, the 16 regional sports network, which are being supervised by separate executives than the ones who operate Disney’s cable networks, are no longer available on Dish or its Sling broadband offering. YES, the cable network that shows Yankees games, among other programming, is off of Sling, but available on Dish.

“Sports programming is the most expensive content on TV. Networks pay the sports teams huge amounts of money, then try to recoup it from a broad base of consumers,” said Andy LeCuyer, senior vice president of programming for Dish, in a prepared statement. “It’s time to change the status quo.”

The fracture is the latest break between programmers and distributors of content at a time when the revenue from satellite and cable companies has become much more desirable. Audiences are migrating to new streaming services, putting pressure on the ability of TV networks to get revenue from advertising and syndication.

Ownership of the regional sports properties is expected to transfer from Disney to other companies in weeks to come. Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to buy 21 of the networks from Disney in a deal valued at $10.6 billion. Meanwhile, YES is being bought by a group that includes the Yankees and e-commerce giant Amazon, as well as Sinclair, which will have a smaller ownership stake in the venture.

Dish said it had hoped to strike an extension agreement with the regional sports outlets, but was not able to do so. The company said it offered “a short-term contract extension that would have included a retroactive rate adjustment and would have preserved the ability of Dish customers to access the Fox RSNs while negotiations continued.  “Fox RSNs had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving these channels up,” said LeCuyer.




More to come…

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