It’s been a rocky year for Dish customers, with multiple stalled and failed negotiations leading either to the threat of subscribers losing channels — or channels actually going dark. The company is currently battling Tribune Media Co over fees to carry its channels, but in the meantime, two popular channels have been dropped by Dish, at least temporarily.
On Thursday night, negotiations between Dish and the National Football League broke down, with the provider dropping the league-owned NFL Network and NFL RedZone. In a press release on its website, the NFL stated that this is the first time in the 13-year history of the NFL Network that the channel has gone dark on any of its service providers.
“Our contract with NFL Network has expired. We remain open to a fair offer that allows us to carry this content at an appropriate value to our customers,” Dish said in a statement. The NFL points out that the two dropped networks continue to be offered on every other major provider in the U.S., including DirecTV, Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon FiOS.
While Dish and Tribune are still in discussions, some users across the country have lost far more channels as a result of this particular stalled deal. Dish said on Sunday that its customers had lost access to not just WGN America across 33 markets, but had also lost as many as 42 Tribune-owned local channels as well. While Dish is pushing for lower fees, Tribune says it is offering the same rate that it offers to any other provider.
In the meantime, the NFL has launched a new website, placing the blame squarely on Dish and urging customers to move to a different provider that carries its channels as soon as possible, lest they miss preseason games and other coverage. Whether or not this will cause Dish to cave remains to be seen, but the two parties have always worked things out in the past.