3 Million Dish Customers May Miss Thanksgiving Football In Latest Example Of TV Industry Dysfunction

from the And-you-wonder-why-things-are-going-poorly dept

So for several years now consumers have faced a growing number of obnoxious retransmission blackouts, which occur when broadcasters and cable providers can’t agree on new programming contracts. Such feuds usually go something like this: a broadcaster will demand a fairly obnoxious price hike for the same content, to which the cable provider (already awash in complaints about higher rates) will balk. Instead of negotiating their differences like adults, this content is subsequently blacked out for paying customers, who never see refunds for the inconvenience.

Instead, customers are effectively used as public relations pinatas, as each side tries to get the customer angry at the other guy. After a few weeks of blacked out content, annoying on-screen tickers urging users to call in and complain, and public sniping, a new confidential deal is struck, and the higher rates are then passed on to the consumer. It’s a habitual dance of dysfunction that has continued despite the fact that the industry is losing more and more customers every year due to unsustainable rate hikes, horrible customer service, and the rise in streaming video competition.

This week, 3 million Dish customers lost access to 28 CBS-owned local stations in 18 markets because Dish Network and CBS executives couldn’t agree on a new contract without penalizing paying subscribers. This latest blackout comes just days before CBS is scheduled to air the latest Thanksgiving NFL game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys, something CBS knows full well will help generate the maximum public backlash:

“CBS, in a statement, warned that ?Dish subscribers are in jeopardy of being without CBS over the Thanksgiving holiday, which would mean they would miss CBS Sports? NFL and SEC football coverage.”

CBS is set to broadcast the NFL matchup between the Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

?I am very upset. Why does the customer always have to suffer in these situations?? asked Jerry Horn, a Dish customer in Narrowsburg, N.Y. ?We pay the bills. ? Keep us connected during contract disputes!”

Dish, for its part, announced that it’s offering users a free over the air antenna so customers can watch the game. The company’s also offering users the chance to ditch all local broadcast channels in exchange for a $10 reduction in their monthly bills. And while Dish isn’t faultless in these feuds, they’re correct in noting that CBS seems to think it deserves more and more money despite fewer and fewer users actually tuning in to traditional broadcasts:

“On a recent investor conference call, CBS boasted about the rate increases promised to shareholders, going from $250 million in 2012 to a forecasted $2.5 billion by 2020. Those desired increases come as DISH customers are watching less CBS, with average viewership down 20 percent over the past 3 years.”

The FCC has occasionally flirted with the idea of banning cable companies and broadcasters from blacking out content during content disputes, but nothing much comes of it — as this kind of anti-consumer behavior is generally seen as “boys being boys,” and outside the purview of regulatory oversight. And the cable and broadcast industry is perpetually unwilling to change its behavior, only accelerating the slow but steady exodus of subscribers from bloated cable bundles — to either streaming alternatives like Hulu, Amazon and Netflix — or piracy. Stellar work all around, boys.

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Companies: cbs, dish

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Comments on “3 Million Dish Customers May Miss Thanksgiving Football In Latest Example Of TV Industry Dysfunction”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Well played

Dish, for its part, announced that it’s offering users a free over the air antenna so customers can watch the game. The company’s also offering users the chance to ditch all local broadcast channels in exchange for a $10 reduction in their monthly bills.

So CBS tries to use their viewers’ desire to watch the game as leverage, only to have Dish to respond with ‘Here’s a free workaround so you aren’t screwed during the dispute, and while we’re on the subject if you want to shave ten bucks off your monthly bill you can cut it entirely.’

CBS may have thought they were smart using their viewers as bargaining chips, but Dish turned it completely around on them such that they come out looking much better than CBS.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Don't forget...

You clearly learned NOTHING from the Aereo case.

Aereo was re-broadcasting content. That’s illegal. Nearly every use of (the full) content someone else makes is illegal.

As a dedicated pirate, you can’t / don’t / won’t grasp the crucial point of LAW that content others make is not “free”: it’s THEIRS.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I liked it. But I thought I was paying for it when I pay for my cable subscription, which includes several CBS channels.

I thought I was paying for it again with my cellular provider’s streaming service, which promoted having the Star Trek library.

If I pay a third time to watch it, how long until the 4th?

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, I am sure it pulled a lot of new viewers. I was excited about the new Star Trek. I had high hopes. Then I watched a few episodes and was really disappointed. So I wonder how many other Star Trek fans did the same thing.

That will give you a nice boost to start with, but only helps in the long term if you can keep the people. With me they have failed.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Star Trek: Discovery was renewed for a second season

This means CBS has another year to look at their stats to see how many subscribers are staying.
Then again, Star Trek may be enough of a “prestige” show that CBS doesn’t care that much about the viewership numbers as long as it keeps bringing in subscribers.

Nick-B says:

Free OTA

I don’t understand how a local station, which is already broadcasting their channel for free over the air, feels they have any right to charge (and then increase the cost of) sending a copy of that same signal to cable companies. If their revenue is covered by advertising, it’s not like getting MORE eyes (people like me that look down upon antennas) will hurt their bottom line.

DB (profile) says:

Re: Free OTA

The reason cable companies pay for ‘rebroadcast’ rights is because the FCC explicitly allows the broadcasters to charge.

The broadcasters actually get a choice of ‘must carry’ for free, or they can negotiate a rate and risk not being carried.

It’s an absurd situation. Local stations spend millions on powerful broadcasting equipment, carefully situated towers and electricity in the hopes of reaching the maximum number of viewers. But when the cable company will carry the signal for free, to otherwise-unreachable viewers, and report the exact number of customers, the broadcaster expects to be paid.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

And lo, from the hills came the speaker for the ancient who laid out upon these clay tablets the laws of how this all should work.

These tablets are law. Customers exist only to pay more so that we might enjoy the benefits of fringe. From $250 million to $2.5 billion in just 8 years, we make our offering to the shareholders.

So what if the winds of change are blowing.
So what if we’ve screwed our own position by moving content to a platform we control.
This is how it was written, so shall it be done!

We honestly need the Gods of entertainment to sweep through the shining towers of the idiots running all of this with a plague. There is a finite amount of money consumers will pay, you’ve ignored all of those who hit that limit and cut the cord. You scream about pirated streams, ignoring that is a logical response to someone not willing to pay yet another increase in rates for the same tired bullshit.

I’m an antenna user, and I had to deal with the ads & tickers telling me to call dish to make sure I didn’t get cut off. You managed to piss off Dish customers & non-Dish customers because you somehow think you deserve more cash for the same tired content.

You offer the same content & demand higher prices because your model is built on a different age. You honestly need to learn that we do have choices, they might not be “legal” choices but they exist. You keep treating us like cows to be milked more times a day while cutting back our feed… you might notice a drop. (And kill off some of the cows).

Here’s a nightmare to consider.
As more people say fuck it and move to others ways to get your content, your ad dollars will drop. “Pirates” don’t see the commercials, because those delivering the content to consumers listen to what they want.

Perhaps it is time to tell shareholders its time to tighten their belts, because you’ve ignored consumers so long they are leaving. You exist to sell entertainment to consumers, not to find a way to drop an extra dime into each dividend.

I.T. Guy says:

I cut the cord. I got tired of paying 188 a month for a bunch of stuff I never watched. I opted for a 50/50 plan with minimal TV for 44 a month. Interestingly Verizon was the one that sent me the ad for the 44 plan. I already had them so I thought how funny, an ad for me to downgrade. I doubt that was the intended effect. LOL. The 44 turned into 70 with taxes/BS fees. I like the 110 bucks extra a month. I’m also getting Piggy with my tv for 29.99 a month and actually watch those channels. The wife HAD to have the 2 Hallmark channels.

All in all I have more than enough to watch for a total savings of 80 a month. I’ll take it.

Also, receiving OTA signals has been awesome. I am lucky enough to live on an elevation and get a bunch of channels I never saw before.

All in all it has been a great experience and I can’t wait to ween the wife off of regular TV altogether so I can go internet only.

If you are on the fence about it, just do it. Anything you miss could be made up with other services and OTA transmissions.

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