Dish Claims Univision Carriage Dispute At An Impasse – Offers Free Antennas

UPDATE: Univision has responded to the Dish Network accusations with its own statement.

“Dish continues its efforts to pay Univision only a fraction of what it pays our English-language peers,” said the Univision statement. “Dish’s latest offer to UCI is an insult to our viewers, who depend on us for the news and information that we provide like no other. Dish is just going through the motions; it is providing hollow offers that hardly represent true negotiations.

“We remain ready and willing to negotiate with DISH, but we will not roll over and let them continue to devalue the programming our already-underrepresented community relies on. Given the fact that our networks perform extremely well on their service, the question becomes: why doesn’t DISH treat Univision fairly?”

Univision also addressed the ratings issue raised by Dish. “With a growing number of platforms and ways to watch programming, traditional ratings don’t tell the full story. The old industry standard of capturing viewers simply cannot alone reflect a network’s popularity or cultural relevance today.

And DISH knows that our networks are especially important to its customers:

  • Univision is the No. 3 most-watched channel in any language on the Dish Network.
  • UDN is the No. 2 most-watched sports network on Dish regardless of language.
  • Univision is responsible for 60% of the Spanish-language viewership on its DishLATINO offering.

(Source: Nielsen, NPM, Calendar Year 2017, A18-49, Broadcast Prime M-Sa 8p-11p, Su7p-11p, Time Period based Live+SD)

With this kind of performance across Dish, all we are asking for is a deal that represents our value, rather than one that offers a fraction of what English-language programmers are receiving. It’s clear that Dish is using traditional ratings as a distraction to keep us from asking the real question: why aren’t they recognizing the value of UCI’s viewership, our performance, on their service? More importantly, why does Dish feel Spanish-language programming isn’t worth paying for?”

Finally, Univision talked about the Univision NOW issue. “But our own OTT offerings shouldn’t excuse Dish for punishing current subscribers who would lose access to content and packages they’re already paying for. Dish is asking customers to pay extra for something they were previously getting as part of their DISH subscription, which is like an added tax on Spanish-speaking customers. Many television programmers have OTT offerings – which begs the question: Are they focusing on Univision’s OTT services because the programming is primarily Spanish-language?”

The programmer also pointed out there are a lack of options in Spanish-language offerings bundles on Sling TV Blue/Orange streaming services.

EARLIER: The gloves are coming off in the Dish Networks carriage dispute with Univision. Dish now claims negotiations with Univision Communications Inc. have reached an apparent impasse, with Univision making an “abrupt departure” from the negotiating table.

Citing “untenable demands” by the programmer, Dish indicated Univision may go dark. However, Dish also said in that eventuality it will send free antennas to “eligible customers” who request one so that they can receive free over-the-air Univision programming.

The dispute has apparently heated up from last week, when both sides cited their “successful partnership,” to quote Univision, while Dish sounded hopeful that a “mutually beneficial” deal could still be struck.

Today veered away from that optimism.

“Dish has left us no choice but to alert our viewers that they could face yet another Dish service interruption,” said the Univision statement in this latest conflict.

“For many years, Dish and UCI have had a successful partnership, which has helped establish Dish as a popular pay-TV provider for Hispanic America. In fact, Univision is the third most-watched network on DISH in any language, UDN is Dish ’s second most-watched sports channel in any language, UniMás is a top-15 network regardless of language on DISH, and, collectively, Univision’s networks represent 60% of the total Spanish-language viewership on DishLatino.”

The note went on to state that Univision’s offers in the dispute were rebuffed, “including one to extend our current agreement to avoid a disruption of service.”

“Univision is calling for price hikes designed to impact the Latino market we have served for more than 20 years,” said Alfredo Rodríguez Diaz-Marta, Vice President of DishLATINO and Sling Latino. “We are disappointed and saddened by Univision’s threats to block our customers from Univision news and entertainment content, especially during such challenging times.”

“Univision waited weeks to counter our previous proposal and has not responded to our latest proposal,” said Rodríguez Diaz-Marta.

Dish claims Univision is demanding the network pay roughly 75 percent more for its channels, even though its ratings have allegedly declined among Dish viewers by approximately 30 percent over the past five years.

“In fact, ratings for its flagship Univision channel have declined by nearly 40 percent since 2012,” said a Dish statement. “These trends are only expected to continue. For example, Univision failed to secure rights for the current World Cup, as well as the World Cup in 2022 and 2026, losing out to one of its competitors in domestic Hispanic programming.”

Dish went on to state that Univision channels “have been among the least-watched linear channels on Sling Orange and Sling Blue. Virtually all Sling customers can access Univision Now should they choose.” The direct-to-consumer Univision Now app costs subscribers $7.99 per month. “Univision is asking Dish to pay almost double that amount for its DishLATINO and Sling Latino customers to watch the same content.”

Dish also said it will send free antennas to “eligible customers” who request one so that they can receive free over-the-air Univision programming.

“Univision is dealing with tremendous uncertainty as it faces significant business challenges, including its failure to secure rights for the World Cup,” said Rodríguez Diaz-Marta. “A massive price increase on our customers is not a path forward; we remain unwavering in our commitment to those we serve. We hope Univision will reconsider its demands and help us reach a swift, fair resolution.”

The list of potentially affected local markets is available here.


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