Blackout news: ESPN, SEC, ACC networks might disappear for DirecTV subscribers; Dish gets CBS46 back

Originally posted Friday, September 13, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The SEC tweeted Friday that DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse and AT&T TVNow subscribers might lose access to their games on the SEC Network. The ACC Network and ESPN channels are impacted as well.

The deadline was 6 p.m. Friday, but the two sides are continuing to negotiate without a blackout happening as of 7:45 p.m., according to an AT&T spokesman. (UPDATE on Saturday, 11:17 p.m.: Looks like Disney has not asked to block its channels yet so the two sides are clearly still talking.)

The Georgia Bulldogs play Arkansas State at noon Saturday, and the game is scheduled to air on ESPN2. Other games potentially blacked out on ESPN and ESPN2 include Kansas State at Mississippi State, Stanford at UCF, Oklahoma State at Tulsa, Florida at Kentucky and Kent State at Auburn. 

ACC Network games this weekend include Furman at Virginia Tech, Bethune Cookman at Miami and Florida State at Virginia. SEC Network games include Chattanooga vs. Tennessee, Colorado State vs. Arkansas and Northwestern State vs. LSU. 

» RELATED: Georgia-Arkansas State: TV, online, radio information 

» MORE: How to watch all 68 FBS games Saturday

This is part of a broader dispute AT&T is having with Disney. It could also impact access to Freeform and all Disney channels. (WSB-TV Channel 2 is owned by Cox Media Group and is not impacted, though it is an ABC affiliate.)

Like many similar battles, AT&T/DirecTV pays Disney a certain fee to have access to their channels. AT&T wants to pay less money. Disney wants to charge more money. At some point, if neither side can agree, one side will usually go public and complain that the other side is being unreasonable.

Networks such as Disney can pull their channels off the subscription service as a way to exert leverage.

“We have a responsibility to make our viewers aware of the potential loss of our programming. However, we remain fully committed to reaching a deal and are hopeful we can do so," Disney said. It directs viewers to www.instantaccess.com for details. 

AT&T, in response, released this statement:

We’re disappointed to see The Walt Disney Co. put their viewers into the middle of negotiations. We are on the side of consumer choice and value and want to keep each of the local ABC stations and Disney’s national sports and entertainment channels in our AT&T TV customers’ lineups. We hope to avoid any interruption to the services some of our customers care about. 

Our goal is always to deliver the content our customers want at a value that also makes sense to them. We’ll continue to fight for that here and appreciate their patience while we work this matter out.

***
In other news, a two-month-long battle between Dish Network and CBS46 (WGCL-TV) is finally over. CBS46 is now back on the air for Dish subscribers. The two sides finally came to an agreement. 

CBS46 news director Steve Doerr said the dispute ended Wednesday evening. 

Dish does not release localized subscriber figures but it has 12 million national paid customers. Extrapolated from the percentage of the U.S. population in metro Atlanta (1.8 percent), that comes out to about 216,000 households impacted.

Dish subscribers who didn’t also use a free broadcast antenna, missed an entire summer of “Big Brother” and Stephen Colbert as well as CBS46 local news and some NFL Sunday football games. They will now have access to the Alabama/South Carolina game tomorrow and the Patriots/Dolphins NFL game Sunday. 

These blackouts are happening more and more often as the pie for cable and satellite subscribers shrinks and streaming services grow. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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