It’s game time: Dish sacks NFL Network in carriage-fee dispute

By Jim O'Neill on Jun 17 2016 at 5:30 AM
It’s game time: Dish sacks NFL Network in carriage-fee dispute

It’s only June so Dish Network isn’t likely to catch too much flak over its decision to drop the NFL Network and NFL RedZone from its pay-TV service during a carriage-fee fight that’s taken to the traditional he-said-she-said tone so many of these disputes do.

Dish is displaying a message on the now-vacant channel the NFL fare usually is on saying it’s open to a “fair offer that allows us to carry this content at an appropriate value to customers.”

The NFL, as one would expect, is saying the payment demands are fair.

“NFL Network is committed to serving the millions of NFL fans by reaching fair distribution agreements with the pay-TV industry,” it said in a statement.

Neither side has released any details on just how much is or isn’t fair, but, if recent carriage disputes are any guide, it’s likely significantly higher than in the past.

The break between Dish and the NFL Network is the first the sportscaster has had… ever. That 13-year previously unblemished history is a testament to the perceived value of sports content to pay-TV operators.

The strife may be a precursor to other battles with niche sports programmers as operators try to rein in rising content costs, costs that have been in the double digits for several years and that have trimmed margins for video operations.

Regional sports networks continue to be tough sells to many operators, and some of the recently launched niche plays – the the Longhorn Network et al – have been slow to gain traction with viewers.

Will Dish and the NFL Network play nice once the NFL season draws closer? Of course.

It may also lead to more expansion over-the-top for the league.

Stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn

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