The companies released a basic joint statement reading: “We have reached an agreement in principle and have extended the deadline accordingly to try and finalize the terms.”
On Friday, the companies agreed to extend the initial deadline of midnight Saturday due to the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which spanned the 24 hours from Friday to Saturday at sundown.
Shows at risk for Optimum subscribers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut would have included ABC freshman drama 10 Days in the Valley, the Monday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs, and Tuesday’s baseball playoff game between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees.
Ironically, the sports blackouts would likely generate the loudest immediate outcry, even though Altice maintains that sports is the origin of the dispute. The French telecom giant, which bought Cablevision (parent of Optimium) in 2016, contended that ESPN has continued to spend aggressively for sports rights even as it has shed millions of subscribers and seen significant ratings erosion. Disney countered that Altice is gouging consumers, charging inflated sums in order to book healthy profits.
As the TV industry convulses with change brought on by technology and the entry of deep-pocketed pace-setters like Netflix and “skinny bundle” purveyors like YouTube and Hulu, carriage disputes are becoming increasingly common. According to the American Television Alliance, a coalition of MVPDs, independent programmers and consumer groups, 2017 has already seen 167 blackouts, well ahead of the 104 it tallied up in all of 2016.
As the Disney-Altice battle wound down, another smaller fight was affecting viewers in area needing emergency broadcast information: Puerto Rico. CBS affiliate WSEEP and One Caribbean Television, which serve the island, were among 10 channels owned by Lilly Broadcasting that went dark on Dish Network systems on Saturday evening. The other affected markets include Honolulu; Erie, Pa.; and Elmira, N.Y.