One more thing: NO Blackouts on Tablo!

“More than 6.5 million CBS viewers found their screens dark on Saturday, after a dispute with AT&T led to the network’s feed getting blacked out in markets from Los Angeles to New York. It’s the latest battle in an ongoing war between companies that carry the channels and the media giants that create the content.”

CBS blackout is the latest frustration for TV viewers caught in the middle of price wars

With your antenna no worries about blackouts…


I actually set up my antennas WHEN I had cable. My advice to relatives, friends and neighbors has always been, “Put up an antenna” even if you have cable.

Two of my neighbors took this advice and a year later cancelled their cable.:grinning: Another was so fed up with AT&T and the DirecTV runaround that they said, “Why even continue with satellite when the antenna is working so well?”

The only reason why the first two kept their cable for a year is when they phoned to cancel their cable, the cable company offered them a 30% reduction in fees (as well as additional channels) for a period of time. However a year later, guess what? The cable company applied their regular high fee but this time my neighbors were well prepared to cut the cord.

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TV blackouts on the rise: Ars Technica took a long look at channel blackouts, which have already occurred in record numbers this year as networks and TV providers butt heads over the cost of carrying content. As the pay TV audience shrinks, networks are desperately trying to compensate by charging more money for their channels, resulting in more pushback from TV providers that can’t sustain the ever-higher prices. This is especially true for satellite TV providers, which can’t rely on internet service to stay profitable. Broadcasters say that AT&T (via its DirecTV and U-Verse services) and Dish Network account have accounted for 85% of all blackouts. (Just this week Dish, narrowly avoided a blackout of regional Fox Sports networks on its satellite service and Sling TV, albeit on a temporary basis.)

While Ars tries to present both sides of the story, the bulk of the blame is squarely on TV networks, whose increasing consolidation has given them much more power to negotiate higher fees. Retransmissing fees for broadcast networks alone reached $10.1 billion last year, up from $200 million in 2006, and it’s hard for TV providers to resist when the major broadcast networks also own popular sports, news, and entertainment channels. This is going to get worse before it blows up in both sides’ faces and gets better.

As the major networks move towards their own streaming channels, they will try to extract as high a fee from cable as possible. They probably would prefer that a customer move away from cable to their own streaming channel (e.g. CBS All Access) which would be more profitable for them.

In all cases, the streaming channel provides more content than cable. CBS supplies their history of programming going back to the 50’s in addition to their current fare. If I couldn’t get CBS through my antenna, I’d get their streaming channel (the bonus being their backlog of programming for the past 5 decades).

NBC is also moving in that direction and probably ABC which is owned by Disney. PBS has done it.

I don’t think that antenna + streaming channels can be beaten; cable will continue to hemorrhage year after year. That’s the paradigm for the future.

The hemorrhaging continues. Cable\satellite lost over 2 million subscribers this year. And the rate of loss is increasing (comparing this quarter to last quarter). Comcast, Charter and AT&T have reported huge customer losses that amount to 8,000 leaving each day! Even Cord Cutters News is surprised by this rising trend that shows no abatement.

At what point do the networks decide that free OTA hurts their bottom line and stop transmitting OTA signals?

That’s my one fear as a cord cutter.

They can’t. If they do that, they loose their license and have to stop operation totally.

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OTA is free but they still get revenue from advertising. Plus they generate revenue through sub-channels. And with ATSC 3.0 they can devise new revenue streams through a combination of OTA and IP.


The FCC can revoke a broadcast TV station’s license, but not a network or cable channel, which aren’t licensed. However, to do so generally requires either: severe fiscal corruption; not addressing severe technical problems; failure to file for a license renewal; or a failure to serve the public.

Technical problems includes failing to broadcast an adequate signal, adhere to FCC technical requirements, or other technical issues. Since a broadcast license has monetary value it is unlikely they would forfeit it by not broadcasting.

This applies to individual stations not a network.

Well, right, but other than news and a few other local content things, a good portion (I would venture the majority) of the content for those local stations comes from the affiliated network.

This isn’t something that would happen overnight but what if the network providing most of their content up and decides to move that content to their OTT solution (e.g. CBS All Access). There isn’t enough local content for the station to broadcast that would fill a full day and the owners of the station decide it’s not generating enough revenue and simply decide to shut it down as a result.

A lot of the affiliates are owned by consortiums (eg Sinclair or Nexstar). These companies may own up to 100 local stations. They’re also not just one channel but have multiple sub-channels. Whether through OTA arrangements or streaming, the network will still get its share of the revenue. Plus with ATSC 3.0 coming (mobile OTA), I doubt a network will want to limit its exposure by dropping OTA. Both Sinclair and Nexstar are investing in ATSC 3.0 (and they are the biggest local station owners).

There are actually three players in this saga: AT&T, CBS and Nexstar. Nexstar owns a slew of local CBS affiliates throughout the nation and it has asked for a substantial increase in the retransmission fees for their stations. So it isn’t just an AT&T-CBS spat - there is a third player (see my post above regarding ownership of local stations).

This is a really interesting article on channel stacking (sub-channels), revenue from them for stations and new technology in that area:

I rarely watch any programs from the majors except for sports. We spend most of our time on sub-channels. Apparently that is the trend and has become a profitable area for stations.

The new technology interests the large owners of local stations such as Nexstar, Sinclair and Tegna. The days are gone when a local station was owned by a local family. In fact Atlanta has become the hub for controlling local stations remotely throughout the country. So gone are the days when a local station has a full staff of engineers and control personnel. “Local” may become basically the broadcast tower :roll_eyes:

BTW those with HD Radio know the really interesting programming is on the sub-channels for an FM station.

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My disclaimer: First sentence;

It’s not just consumers’ appetite for more diverse, ad-supported programming that is driving multicasting these days

What?? Seriously, consumers have an appetite for ad-supported programming?!?!!?!??!!? I realize new generations are indoctrinated to believe commercial interruptions are part of the show, or not paying out-of-pocket is free.

So I clicked on About where they state

we deliver news and information written, edited and curated for a broad swath of industry executives ranging from owners and the C-Suite to managers and professionals in finance, programming, news, technology, digital, sales, marketing, operations and policy.

It’s kind of marketing, telling people what they want to hear…

In Toledo, OH Sinclair owned WNWO while still having a minimal physical facility it’s “local” news show comes from a station in South Bend ID.

Tegna owns 2 WTOL, CBS and WUPW, FOX. There is no Fox or local news. WTOL 11 has news on the Tegna owned Fox channel, morning shows and evening shows offset from the usual hours.

I understand this isn’t the hub effect you’re getting at. Still, conglomerates are consolidating “local” stations, maintaining network affiliations and consuming markets.

Similar to media corporations. There’s like 3-5 giant ones… that get to decide what people get to watch. With a handful of corporations owning all the broadcasting stations, limits who get to ultimately decides what choices there are.

Corporations own corporations… investors span across corporations

60% of the local stations in the country are owned and operated this way. Local is pseudo-local…:upside_down_face:

This economic model of national “local” ownership has implications for retransmission fees and blackouts on a large scale.

I’m surprised that a company such as Sinclair hasn’t offered the same service that Dish does - installation of antennas. Sinclair is investing a lot in channel stacking and ATSC 3.0 technology (designing ATSC 3.0 USB tuners). They could just as well buy Tablo and distribute it as their DVR in a package deal along with an antenna install.

Take a look at this video for locals ownership & consolidation. Sinclair & Nexstar actually own both CBS & NBC stations in an area! Sinclair is quite profitable as far as locals ownership is concerned. In these cases the majors such as CBS and NBC are simply content providers. As long as Sinclair pays them the affiliate fees, the majors will continue providing content OTA.

Since it is illegal to own two stations in one area, notice the shell game Nexstar plays to circumvent this rule.

The humorous aspect is the local news program being the same on both local NBC & CBS read by the same announcers a thousand miles away…

The only quibble I have with this video is the translator tower issue. Sinclair is investing heavily in ATSC 3.0 (broadcast towers and receivers) and that is where they want to deploy their resources. Even in Canada the CBC is getting rid of translators and repeaters in sparsely populated areas (to some controversy & discontent).

With Locast being sued (like Aereo) by the majors, pure antenna OTA looks better and better.

Broadcast (as defined by SCOTUS, influenced by others of course):

The transmission of a point to point private stream conversion of recorded content.

Thank you SCOTUS!! Only 2 dissenting opinions (one former, dead judge) and countless lower court rulings that found the above statement to be ridiculous (which it is).

With more and more majors supplying their own streaming channels, I was expecting them to sue Locast as a competitor. If I was a house builder, I’d wire every house I built for OTA, stick an antenna at least in the attic and advertise my houses as reception ready Day 1. Move in and plug in your TV. Decide later how much more programming you need once you have the basic.

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