According to reports from Sunday, satellite TV provider DISH Network has settled a lawsuit with AMC Networks and its sister company, Cablevision Systems Corp. over a now defunct programming service. DISH Network will pay $700 million in cash to Cablevision and AMC Networks, with about $80 million of the cash to be used for the purchase of Cablevision’s multichannel video and data distribution services licenses in 45 metro areas across the United States. As part of the agreement, DISH also has agreed to resume carrying AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, WE TV and other AMC Networks cable television channels.
This ends the several month long blackout for DISH’s more than 14 million subscribers for the popular AMC channel, which carries the cult cable TV hit Breaking Bad as well as cable’s biggest hit drama, the zombie show The Walking Dead. AMC ran a long ad campaign about how its popular shows were not available on DISH, encouraging DISH subscribers to move to their local cable provider or a competitor like DIRECTV. AMC claimed that as much as 13 percent of its subscriber base was affected by the blackout on DISH.
As part of a multiple year agreement, AMC will be on DISH Channel 131 starting Sunday. Other AMC Network programming will return to DISH on November 1, with the Fuse music channel also beginning on November 1 as well. Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming for Dish said in a statement that a multiyear deal delivers a “fair value for both parties and includes digital expansion opportunities for AMC Networks’ programming.”
Earlier in the summer, there was a blackout on DIRECTV of Viacom channels that, while similar in nature, was resolved much more quickly. It is not clear, since reports have not yet come out, how many people switched from DIRECTV due to that struggle or from DISH due to the AMC blackout.
A chart provided by AwfulAnnouncing.com, a sports blog that often covers the disputes between cable sports networks and cable TV providers and satellite TV providers provides some interesting information: namely, that DIRECTV is second in the entire United States in subscribership, behind only Comcast Corporation. The satellite TV powerhouse is now one of the big boys, which is what gives it the power to push around smaller niche cable networks, such as is going on with the Pac-12 Networks right now.
DIRECTV’s major coup has been its exclusive hold on the NFL SUNDAY TICKET package, There’s no other option available for hardcore professional football fans. DIRECTV also has a very vast channel lineup, and tends to have much better customer service than the cable companies that have monopolies over cable service in given areas.
Here are the top 10 pay TV providers in the United States, along with their subscriber numbers:
- Comcast Corporation – 22,294,000
- DIRECTV – 19.966,000
- Dish Network Corporation – 14,071,000
- Time Warner Cable, Inc. – 12,653,000
- Cox Communications, Inc. – 4,756,000
- Verizon Communications, Inc. – 4,353,000
- Charter Communications, Inc. – 4,341,000
- AT&T, Inc. – 3,991,000
- Cablevision Systems Corporation – 3, 257,000
- Bright House Networks LLC – 2,079,000
The sports blog presents these numbers to show that DIRECTV is alone among the top providers in not coming to an agreement with the Pac-12 Networks, and that DIRECTV should back down in its hard stance to make the Pac-12 price come down. The truth of the matter is, though, that DIRECTV is the one in the position of power right now. They made Viacom, a much larger entertainment corporation, back down earlier this year after about ten days of outages for channels like MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
Bottom line: people across the United States are not going to switch providers because of the Pac-12 Networks, especially when the most high-profile college football games will air on ESPN/ABC anyway.