CBS-owned stations return to DIRECTV

It has been one of the longer and more visible blackouts in years. And now, it’s over. As of this morning, 26 CBS-owned stations in 17 markets have returned to DIRECTV, U-Verse, and AT&T TV Now (what used to be called DIRECTV NOW.)

Since July 19

This move signals that AT&T and CBS have agreed to a new contract for carriage. The old contract expired on July 19 and CBS requested that AT&T stop carrying CBS stations until there was a new contract. This was 100% their decision and for the last three weeks, there’s been no CBS for viewers in some of the largest markets in the country including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

So what happened?

Of course these things are always confidential, but here’s what I imagine. CBS probably asked for more money. AT&T probably pointed out that The Big Bang Theory ended this year and there isn’t really a lot of other high-rated programming out there. And so AT&T didn’t want to pay more money. I figure that’s how it went.

Who got hurt?

We’ll see if AT&T’s subscriber numbers were really impacted by this at the end of the next quarter. For the most part this sort of thing doesn’t have a long-term effect if the blackout is short, because many AT&T customers are on long-term contracts.

On the other hand, the damage to CBS was probably a bit more. Ratings are reported almost instantly now, although most companies don’t change their ad rates more than once a quarter. It’s fair to say that CBS probably lost quite a bit in the ratings if people in most major cities with satellite TV couldn’t see their stations. If those people don’t come back to CBS for their local programming, the local stations could need to lower ad prices in order to attract buyers.

What about Nexstar?

The other big blackout on AT&T’s TV services is still happening. Nexstar still requires AT&T to black out their stations. Unfortunately there isn’t any news about that. About 97 cities with stations owned by Nexstar have been without those channels on DIRECTV and other AT&T services since July 3. Hopefully we’ll see a resolution to that one soon as well.

Can you still use the Locast app?

As someone who lost CBS stations during the blackout, I relied on Locast as well as my personal TV antenna for live TV during the blackout. It’s a pretty good solution, even though there isn’t any DVR ability. For now the Locast app is still available to me but I don’t know if it will be removed now that all my channels are restored.

And, of course, let’s not forget that the big networks are still suing Locast alleging that it’s actually illegal. That’s a matter for the courts to decide.

Did this blackout make you go buy an antenna?

I always tell people that they really need to invest in a TV antenna. You can’t count on companies like CBS to be on your side. You have the right to put up a TV antenna and get free, uninterrupted live TV. Don’t let those guys take that away from you… get a TV antenna from Solid Signal.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.