Why isn't ABC on DISH Network?

  • Posted on: 10 Jul 2024
    Why isn't ABC on DISH Network?

  • ABC, one of the three key broadcast television networks in the United States, has not been available on Dish Network channel since December 2018. This blackout of ABC affiliate stations to Dish subscribers has affected millions of TV viewers across the country who rely on being able to watch popular ABC shows. Well, why did this happen and what is being done to recover ABC for Dish customers?

    This paper aims at discussing the ABC and Dish Dispute.

    The major source of the conflict is revenue sharing whereby the broadcasters demand high retransmission fees. Stations like ABC demand cable, satellite and other Pay-TV such as Dish Network fees to relay their content to the customers. Some of these include the conditional access system fees, card activation fees and signal decoding fees some of which have increased in recent years; Pay-TV operators resist being pushed back seeking to maintain lower fees. The actions in the case occurred when Dish Network hesitated to pay the amount ABC and owner Disney demanded for further retransmission consent. They could not agree and sign a new contract before the designated time of December 2018 even after the contract was extended and the terms negotiated. This led to the situation where ABC stations were taken off Dish’s offerings.

    This cut affected nearly 2.5 million Dish Network subscribers across the country in a way that caused them to lose ABC content from their channel subscriptions. Some of the major impacted markets were New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and other major cities. This affected live streaming of the most-watched ABC Primetime Shows in that specific time of the day including “Grey’s Anatomy”, “The Good Doctor”, and “The Conners”. It also meant no more major events on ABC such as the Oscars telecast for example, and they were big money producers.

    Seeking Resolution

    Of the two, Dish was the first to release a statement, followed by Disney/ABC — both parties accusing the other of being at the root of the stalemate in negotiating the retransmission consent once the blackout started in December 2018. They also said they were ready to return to the negotiation table despite such issues taking a long time, such as in this case. According to market updates by the end of January 2024, Dish was in talks with Disney not only to relaunch the ABC network but also to buy content from Disney’s assets including ESPN, Disney channels, FX networks, and National Geographic.

    However, despite the evident moves, no new deal was struck in the early days of 2024 as expected. ABC called Dish subscribers to switch, through advertisements of other service providers offering better deals. They also shared with viewers options for watching primetime content through apps and websites that verified their subscription to a pay-TV service. But this gave Dish only limited open door and would not meet most of the present Dish clients without access to ABC.

    Dish escalated the matter while downplaying the loss arguing that 80% of their subscribers continued to prime time broadcast viewing of other major network affiliates like NBC and CBS. They also provided such relief measures as giving rebates for the bills and even giving away free over the air antennas. But the majority of subscribers continued to complain about missing popular ABC programs they subscribed for.

    As the conflict continued until spring 2024, some analysts started asking how much longer the conflict would last, given the viewers’ growing impatience and Dish Network’s loss in subscribers. Customers have defected from Dish recently and the firm has been losing customers significantly in the last few quarters, for instance, it lost 334,000 video subscribers in Q1 2024 as estimated by Moffett Nathanson. Disney/ABC crisis must have been instrumental in this fall.

    Ongoing Tensions and Impact

    The conflict of interest between Dish Network and Disney/ABC as of the end of 2024 was not solved, at least in the short term. It is the retransmission consent agreement to return ABC affiliates that the two companies continue to be distant on even more than a year of blackout. This rigid stand by both sides has not relented and still makes Dish customers who are locked out of major network programming fume with indignation.

    According to the Disney/ABC side, Dish emerged into agreements it made in early 2024 to restore Univision channels and in October with the CW Network to make certain that if Dish deems ABC stations a priority, a resolution is achievable. Dish counters by claiming that ABC/Disney require delivering a more balanced list of demands to them like all other broadcasting companies. Famous and several analysts have stated that Disney enjoys a highly advantageous position over Dish Network more so given the uptake of the Disney suite channels. The media conglomerate probably does not feel the urgency to back down until Dish Corporation comes to the table with terms that are favorable to the media conglomerate.

    Unfortunately, Dish Network is now in the middle of this battle where they have to suffer because of the two. It is probable that the next skirmish will be in early 2020 when ABC will broadcast the Oscars in February. Viewers may apply pressure on both companies should Dish customers miss one of TV’s biggest events. However, whether even the Academy Awards is sufficient to create a necessary level of urgency to push through a deal is still questionable due to the much longer periods of inactivity at present. For now, Dish Network has no ABC listed, and millions of its subscribers can hardly enjoy popular network shows. This removal goes on causing increasing tension that an operating media giant and satellite operator are reluctant to reach a deal.


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