CBS Corp. and AT&T renewed their contract on Thursday, ending a 20 day-long blackout that began when the companies’ previous, seven-year deal expired at 2:00 a.m. ET on July 19.
How does Locast think it can get away with retransmitting broadcast signals to smartphones and smart TVs without compensating broadcasters? By claiming to be a nonprofit. But I expect that a federal judge will see through that fiction and find that it is nothing more than a front for Dish and AT&T’s DirecTV.
Later this summer, AT&T will retire the name of the over-the-top TV service, first launched in December 2016, which will be rebranded “AT&T TV Now.” The change comes as the telco plans to launch test pilots in select markets of a new internet-streaming TV service called AT&T TV. Both the AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now services will be accessed through the same AT&T TV app on either mobile devices or connected TVs.
As expected, the ongoing impasse between CBS and AT&T is wreaking havoc on WBBM’s already low ratings. The blackout of CBS 2 on DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse cable systems appears to have cost the CBS-owned station more than a quarter of its viewership.
The network reported a “dramatic spike in new subscribers” to its CBS All Access streaming service last weekend, compared with the same weekend in 2018. It didn’t say it was due to the retrans impasse that has blackout out CBS stations on AT&T’s DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-Verse, but strongly implied it was in a press release. The release also contains other CBS talking points, including that AT&T has dropped 178 stations in 120 markets in 2019 because of its retrans recalcitrance.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, speaking to securities analysts today, said the planned HBO OTT streaming service would “ultimately” be a full-service TV network with live news and sports. “Those are going to be really, really important elements for HBO Max.” The service is set to launch next spring.
On an earnings call today, Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson suggested the two companies are not that far apart on terms that would make CBS stations available again for approximately 6.6 million subscribers to the company’s DirecTV or U-verse services. “The bid-ask candidly is not that wide, but it’s kind of an interesting dynamic,” he said. “We sent…[what] was a reasonable, fair offer over five days ago, and that’s been crickets. We haven’t heard anything.”
The company, which is engaged in retrans war with broadcasters, posted a net loss of 778,000 “premium video” subscribers, most of whom subscribe to DirecTV, and shed 168,000 streaming DirecTV Now accounts. Chief Executive Randall Stephenson earlier this year told investors the company expects to keep losing pay-TV customers through 2019 as it cut backs on promotions.
Unable to reach on agreement with CBS on programming fees, AT&T early Saturday morning dropped CBS’s broadcast and cable programming from its TV distribution services — DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-Verse, according to CBS. “While CBS has made every effort to avoid this blackout, we won’t agree to terms that undervalue our hit programming enjoyed by nearly 240 million viewers across all dayparts last season,” the network said.