As the Tribune Broadcasting-Charter blackout enters its second week, NFL playoff games, college basketball and WGN America have gone unseen by millions of Spectrum subscribers. But as awards season gears up, one more indignity from the carriage fight lies ahead.
Sunday’s 24th Critics’ Choice Awards telecast, which will air from 7-10 PM ET/PT, is likely to be blacked out for Spectrum subscribers in the awards haven of Los Angeles who try to tune into the CW broadcast on KTLA Channel 5. Ditto for big cities like New York, Houston and Denver. The CW started airing the annual film-and-TV awards show last January and previously aired a film-only predecessor.
On January 2, after extending an original December 31 contract deadline, 33 Tribune stations in 24 markets went dark on Spectrum, affecting some 6 million customers of the No. 2 U.S. cable provider. Most of the stations are Fox and CW affiliates, meaning the primary programming hanging in the balance is football and CW’s primetime lineup. New episodes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend return Friday, and shows like The Flash will resume original episodes, and next week brings the premiere of new series Roswell, New Mexico.
The Critics’ Choice Awards, which are presented by the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, referred Deadline’s questions about the telecast to a CW rep, who declined to comment. Because the CW is a broadcast network, of course, awards-obsessed viewers do have other options, including antennas and streaming service Locast in certain markets. Also, the free, ad-supported CW app offers shows (including the Critics’ Choice) the day after they air and is available across a range of connected TV and mobile devices. Unlike other network apps, it does not require a pay-TV subscription.
Neither Tribune nor Charter would offer a comment when contacted by Deadline, but a person familiar with the negotiations said the expectation is that a last-minute reprieve is not in the immediate offing. That means Fox’s two NFL divisional playoff games — big-ticket clashes between the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night, and the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon — are also threatened.
The Critics’ Choice Awards is far from the level of the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards in terms of viewership. But especially since the previously separate film and TV categories were combined in 2016, it has drawn an A-list crowd to Barker Hanger in Santa Monica. The show offers an important slot in the runup to the Oscar nominations for a wider array of contenders to get air and red carpet time.
As Deadline’s Pete Hammond has noted, there is another reason the show remains of interest in Hollywood: its uncanny presaging of the Academy Awards. Last year, the organization honored The Shape of Water with four wins, including Best Picture, and predicted all other major categories, with 100% accuracy.
Patrick Hipes contributed to this report.
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