If you’re a Dish or Sling TV subscriber you must know by now a carriage dispute over fees has knocked HBO and Cinemax off the air (and off the stream!). The now, AT&T owned networks have been blacked out since Nov. 1 on Dish’s satellite TV and streaming TV services.
The blackout affects subscriber’s abilities to watch popular HBO shows like The Deuce, Camping, and VICE, both live and On Demand. It is the first time HBO channels have ever been pulled from a provider in its 45-year history.
As with most disputes both sides blame each other. HBO said “DISH is making it extremely difficult, responding to our good faith attempts with unreasonable terms.” And, they point to the fact Dish has been involved in quite a few disputes with networks including the Univision blackout that has kept it off Dish since last summer.
The company launched a website letting customers know about other ways to access HBO and Cinemax shows, one of which is through their apps for Android and iOS devices.
But Dish blames AT&T for the blackout, and it does seem a bit more than coincidental that HBO was dropped for the first time only after takeover by AT&T. The company’s acquisition of Time Warner and HBO has put them under the microscope for exploiting their ownership of both content and distribution.
There is an even more direct connection between the two parties that shouldn’t be lost in the conversation. Dish is the only satellite TV competitor to AT&T-owned DirecTV, and so customers who can’t get HBO/Cinemax on Dish may be swayed to change satellite TV service.
Dish senior VP of programming Andy LeCuyer said, “Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T immense power over consumers. It seems AT&T is implementing a new strategy to shut off its recently acquired content from other distributors.”
While the carriage dispute may last a lot longer than what customers would like (possibly months), it will hopefully be restored for Season 8 of Game of Thrones to premiere sometime next year. In the meantime, if you can’t live without HBO you might be forced to subscribe to their streaming service HBO NOW.
Dish and Sling TV customers who have lost the networks will be credited for the downtime, although it isn’t clear if those credits will be automatic or need to be requested by the consumer.