CBS and DISH came to a multi-year agreement late Thursday evening that will return CBS programming to DISH customers, but it was too late for fans in Philadelphia and elsewhere hoping to watch the Cowboys take part in their annual Thanksgiving Day game.
CBS went dark on 28 local channels in 18 markets across 26 states, including here in Philadelphia and in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, over a dispute over carriage fees that had lingered since Monday. As a result, DISH customers weren’t able to watch the Chargers crush the Cowboys 28-6 before a sold-out crowd of 93,000 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
All told, about four million DISH customers were impacted by the blackout.
Obviously, fans weren’t happy at all about the situation, and jumped on social media to vent about the game being blocked.
— Ross B. Kauffman (@rbk5280) November 23, 2017
What the flying f***?! @CBSDFW @CBS y'all are seriously going to pull a black out on @dish for Thanksgiving?!?! Do you realize how many viewers you're losing for the Cowboys vs Chargers game?! #stupid #getyourcraptogether
— Jessica (@Jess06ct) November 23, 2017
— Eric Myers (@provenpoints101) November 23, 2017
— Corey Russell (@CoreyRussell723) November 23, 2017
The dispute was over contract negotiations that had dragged on since January. CBS sought an increase of as much as 40 percent in retransmission fees for DISH to carry its channels. The network said it plans to collect more than $2.5 billion a year in retransmission fees by 2020, a dramatic increase from the $250 million it collected in 2012. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We are pleased we have reached a deal with DISH, who recognizes the value that the number one Network brings to viewers in these markets,” said CBS president of television networks distribution Ray Hopkins. “DISH customers will continue to get CBS’ must-have content, while we are also able to achieve our short and long-term economic and strategic goals.”
DISH didn’t see it that way. The company thought CBS was asking for an unfair rate increase, and went so far as to offer its customers free digital antennas at no cost so they could watch their local CBS stations during the blackout.
“CBS is attempting to tax DISH customers on programming that’s losing viewers, tax DISH customers on programming available for free over the air, and tax DISH customers for content available directly from CBS,” DISH vice president Warren Schlichting said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our customers are clear: they don’t want to pay a CBS tax. It’s regrettable and unnecessary that CBS is bringing its greed into the homes of millions of families this Thanksgiving.”
Thanks to the deal, DISH customers won’t miss Saturday’s Iron Bowl featuring No. 1-ranked Alabama taking on No. 6 Auburn or Sunday’s NFL on CBS doubleheader (though due to NFL broadcast restrictions, viewers in the Philadelphia market only get one game, the New Orleans Saints at the Los Angeles Rams at 4:25 p.m.).