Thankfully, relief has come for DirecTV customers. So what happened, you might be asking? And how could this affect you in the future if you utilize pay-TV services? Here’s what we know: On July 2, DirecTV lost around 176 channels, including local channels from ABC, CBS, Fox, the CW and others due to carrier disputes.
The sweeping channel ‘blackout’ on the satellite provider was caused by a dispute with Nexstar Media Group, which oversees affiliated television station groups Mission Broadcasting and White Knight. Nexstar is the largest local broadcasting group in America, and the dispute with DirecTV impacted millions of Americans.
The dispute led DirecTV to accuse Nexstar and its associates of violating antitrust laws. The cost of local television has gone up 5,000% in the last 17 years, and DirecTV says that “illegal collusion” by Nexstar is the driving reason behind this.
In March, DirecTV brought a federal lawsuit against Nexstar, Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting, stating that the stations were deliberately and unjustly trying to drive up prices.
In the lawsuit, DirecTV accused Nexstar of forcing them “to pay supracompetitive prices or lose access to the most popular broadcast television programming.”
“Nexstar has a long track record of forcing programming outages in an effort to unnecessarily raise prices for everyone at the expense of the communities they are licensed and entrusted to serve,” said Rob Thun, chief content officer of DirecTV, in a July press release.
However, last week, Nexstar agreed to a temporary truce. In a joint press release prepared by the companies and released on Sunday, September 17th, they brought hope to DirecTV customers…especially football fans who were angered to miss Week 1 of the NFL games due to the dispute. It’s a double-whammy for DirecTV users/NFL lovers who were already bummed that the provider lost NFL Sunday Ticket to YouTube.
“In recognition and appreciation of the continued patience of DirecTV customers and Nexstar viewers, the companies have agreed to temporarily return the signals of the Nexstar-owned stations and national cable news network NewsNation to DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and U-verse while we both work to complete the terms of an agreement,” the companies stated.
Not all DirecTV channels will come back immediately
The channels will be restored on a rolling basis, so DirecTV customers might have to wait before all their channels return. Additionally, not all of Nexstar’s stations fall under the new agreement with DirecTV, so some local channels might not be accessible for DirecTV users.
This dispute will likely cause DirecTV to continue to shed customers. Nearly 3 million people canceled their DirecTV package last year, and they reportedly lost 400,000 customers in the second quarter of this year. Like traditional cable, satellite cable has been fading in popularity: Paid television subscription plans hit a record low this year, thanks in part to HD antennas and live television packages from streaming services like Hulu and YouTube.
Skip the frustration and get a TV antenna
You can get live television from hundreds of stations, including local channels, with these plans, or you can use an antenna to get free over-the-air television. And, yes, that includes your locally broadcast NFL games. You can get free HD television from stations like CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, Fox and more with an antenna, including around 50 other local channels (if you live in a high-density area, you will have even more channel options).
Investing in an HD antenna only requires a small, one-time upfront cost (as little as $30) and it ensures that you will never be held hostage in a billion-dollar lawsuit by media conglomerates. While the DirecTV and Nexstar dispute is now temporarily resolved, experts say that we can expect similar battles in the near future.
In fact, principal analyst Craig Moffett of the equity research company MoffettNathanson is now predicting that we are officially seeing the sunset on the pay-tv model.
“As things stand, we expect cord-cutting to grow even worse and the long-theorized ‘floor’ to be breached,” Moffett noted in his report, predicting that cable television has now entered a “doom cycle.”
Better yet, TabloTV has recently come out with an antenna and DVR bundle. For $109.99 (originally $129.99), you can get a Tablo device (which acts as a DVR and wirelessly sends the antenna signal to any smart device in your home) and an indoor antenna. As if you didn’t think life could get any better. You’re welcome!
Learn more about how you can watch TV for free here.