Customers of Dish Network have a little to rejoice after CBS agreed with the satellite television provider to a brief extension, avoiding a 14 major market blackout at midnight tonight. This extension may be just grasping at life support for customers who are growing tired of the number of channels Dish Network has removed due to failed negotiations.
The announcement came Thursday afternoon from CBS. The network did not indicate just how long the extension will be, and Dish Network, as of yet, has not commented on the extension. The move may only be a band-aid for viewers. Recently, Dish Network and Turner Broadcasting could not come to an agreement and channels including Cartoon Network, Boomerang, CNN, truTV and Turner Classic Movies were removed from the Dish programing list.
The loss of channels was viewed very differently by customers and Dish Network. Many customers turned to social media to vent their displeasure on the loss of the eight Turner Broadcasting channels. Many consumers stated it was the last straw for them and were canceling their service, some after many happy years. Other customers indicated that they called Dish and were able to get small credits or discounts on additional packages for their inconvenience. Charlie Ergen, Dish Network chairman, indicated that the loss of CNN and other Turner channels were a “non-event” and even indicated that the potential loss of TNT and TBS when their contracts are up would be fine with him.
For sports fans, the potential loss of TBS and TNT along with CBS would likely be the last straw. The Turner superstations recently signed a new contract with the NBA and CBS is the home of many NFL football games and has been the longtime home of the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. The loss of these sports would likely not be seen as a “non-event” by viewers and could become a death-blow for Dish Network. The CBS extension offers Dish Network customers an unknown amount of extra viewing time, but unless a contract is received and agreed upon by both parties, it may just prolong the inevitable.
It appears the biggest dispute is over Dish’s Hopper DVR. The Hopper offers a feature called Auto Hop. This allows viewers to automatically skip commercials on recorded programs. Most DVR’s offer approximately a 10-20 second forward skip that customers can press repeatedly to skip commercials, however, Auto Hop just skips the commercials entirely, and as CBS views it, defeats the purpose of trying to sell commercials space to advertisers. If advertisers decide that 14 million viewers, the reported number of Dish customers, are not seeing their commercials, why should they spend the money with CBS when that money could go into advertising people will actually see.
The battle is still going on, and Dish Network customers may find that the extension of the shows and programing they want was only temporary and instead receive a notice on their TV that CBS has been removed from their channel line up as soon as the reprieve is up. It remains to be seen if CBS and Dish will come to an agreement or not, or if Turner Broadcasting and Dish will return the eight lost channels to Dish Network’s lineup or not. Whatever the decision is, many Dish Customers appear to be done with the provider and moving to DirecTV or cable options.
By Carl Auer