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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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 4:50am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      kallethen, 22 Nov 2017 @ 7:34am

      Re: Well played

      I do have to applaud Dish on actually offering something to the affected customers. Usually it's just the two sides yelling at the customer to blame the other fellow and that's it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 6:08am

    Don't forget...

    .. from Aereo we learned that every over-the-air viewing of a free broadcast counts as piracy - so 3 million people will be getting settlement letters from our favorite IP trolls...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2017 @ 10:08am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 7:03am

    CBS: We're raising our rates for cable and Dish customers!

    Customer: So that you can continue to show premium content, right?

    CBS: HA! No. We've moved our premium content - Star Trek and other stuff you used to watch on CBS - to our streaming service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Machin Shin, 22 Nov 2017 @ 7:11am

      Re:

      I wonder how that is going for them. I think it might have had a chance, but the new Star Trek was pretty disappointing. I certainly wouldn't pay extra to watch that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 7:28am

        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?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2017 @ 7:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

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



          It will take exactly the same amount of time until the 4th whether you pay to watch or don't pay to watch

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        kallethen, 22 Nov 2017 @ 7:31am

        Re: Re:

        From what I read, the new ST series did pull in a lot of viewers. But the real question is how many will stay?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Machin Shin, 22 Nov 2017 @ 7:47am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2017 @ 8:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I know you said you're disappointed by it, but how is it? I looked at the previews and it just looks like a sci-fi action series with Federation paint rather than a real Star Trek show.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John85851 (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 9:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Star Trek: Discovery was renewed for a second season
          http://deadline.com/2017/10/star-trek-discovery-second-season-renewal-cbs-all-access-120219287 7/

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Al Anon, 22 Nov 2017 @ 8:08am

    The End Game

    It's obvious where this is headed. The broadcasters continue to charge more and more for less and less until they have one subscriber paying them billions for nothing. So very very clever of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nick-B, 22 Nov 2017 @ 8:37am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DB (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 8:54am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2017 @ 12:42pm

        Re: Re: Free OTA

        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.

        Not much different than the bittorrent situation, but most stations (except NRK) fight against it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2017 @ 12:47pm

      Re: 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

      Because they purchased that right from the government decades ago. (Of course, officially, it's each side giving a gift to the other.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2017 @ 8:43am

    I view content providers and MSOs as damage and route around them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 9:00am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 22 Nov 2017 @ 9:29am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2017 @ 9:49am

    "which would mean they would miss CBS Sports’ NFL and SEC football coverage.

    No it doesn't - Hook up that old rabbit ears and grab a beer,
    the resolution is much better!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    madasahatter (profile), 22 Nov 2017 @ 10:49am

    Children's Broadcast Service

    The idiots at CBS are forgetting TV viewership is declining across the board. They need the viewers but the viewers do not need them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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