Millions Of Viewers Could Be Blacked Out Of Chargers-Cowboys And 2017 Iron Bowl

Thanksgiving weekend is all about food, family and football.

But this year, a lot of fans around the country might not be able to watch some of the best football games this weekend.

As fans around the country prepare for a slate of good pro and college football games including Chargers v Cowboys and the 2017 Iron Bowl, a dispute between CBS and Dish could force fans to miss these exciting games.

According to reports, CBS and Dish Network are currently in a dispute over which CBS-owned channels should be  available to Dish subscribers. Dish is “hesitant” to add certain channels that are currently not in high demand and it’s unlikely that a deal will get done this weekend.

As a result, CBS may be totally blacked out for Dish subscribers in 14 major markets, including the New York and Los Angeles areas. Several other major markets could also be in trouble, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Detroit, Minneapolis – St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

According to Alex Silver of Cablefax:

CBS O&O’s have been dark on DISH systems in 14 of the country’s largest markets since Tuesday morning, as have eight CW affiliates, three independent stations and two MyNetwork TV affiliates. A total of 28 stations in 18 markets are impacted on the broadcast front (see chart at bottom of page), which Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker estimated affects 3 million DISH Customers. Three CBS-owned cable nets—The Smithsonian Channel, CBS Sports Network and Pop—are also unavailable to DISH customers nationwide.

CBS asserted DISH has been unwilling to “negotiate the same sort of deal we have successfully struck with its competitors.” The broadcaster did not provide details of what that would look like, but clearly expressed a belief that DISH is undervaluing its content. “DISH is saying it doesn’t believe CBS programming is worth the market rates we are seeking. Yet they have paid at least one cable network more than double our asking price, for far less than half the ratings,” the net said, presumably referring to ESPN.

DISH evp, marketing, programming and media sales Warren Schlichting told Cablefax on Tuesday that CBS is seeking “significant double-digit rate increases” for consent to continue carrying the flagship broadcast net. He also bemoaned the fact that CBS is also forcing DISH to carry its three cable nets, which he called a “tax.” CBS pushed back on that point in its statement, saying, “They currently have deals in place with a number of other broadcasters that have many more associated cable networks than we do.” Indeed, compared to the cable portfolios of NBCU, Fox and ABC parent Disney, CBS’ three-channel group is fairly compact.

With the sides so far apart on a deal and lots of doubt a deal being done by Saturday’s Iron Bowl, there a lot of viewers who could be forced to use digital antennas or signing up for CBS All-Access.

It will be interesting to see if the pressure of the holiday weekend leads to either side to strike a deal. It will also be interesting to see if this winds up affecting the ratings for these respected games.