Are streaming services subject to channel blackouts?

A tip of the hat to Earl Bonovich who inspired this article.

Were you hit by a channel blackout last summer? Did you lose your CBS or Fox station. A lot of satellite customers did, and cable systems weren’t immune either. These blackouts happen when content companies like CBS/Showtime, Disney/Fox/ESPN/ABC, and Discovery ask for more money than pay-TV companies think they deserve. Without a retransmission contract in place, those content providers demand that their channels be blacked out.

But will you fare any better with streaming?

Here’s the (sad) honest truth

No, you won’t fare better with streaming. In fact you could fare worse, because there are more ways for content companies to pull their programming. Here are a few examples just from the last few months:

  • When Fox stations went dark on DISH, they went dark on Sling too. Not only that, but when the stations went dark, many subscribers lost access to the FOXNOW and FXNOW apps so there was no way to stream a lot of shows.
  • Hulu has started pulling its apps from some AndroidTV boxes with no explanation. It’s believed that someone found a way to pirate Hulu content on that platform.
  • For a short, but tense, time, Amazon’s Prime Video app was taken off Apple’s App Store. The company claims it was a mistake but you have to wonder.
  • Disney has stopped accepting advertising from Netflix on its stations (Disney, ABC, ESPN, Fox, and all the secondary stations attached to those brands). This is due to Disney+ competing with Netflix.
  • Disney+ looks not to be available on Fire TV devices at launch, because Amazon’s Prime Video service competes with Disney.

Folks, this is just recent history. Do more digging and you’ll realize that content companies pull their stuff from streaming all the time. Not only that, but different shows and movies disappear from streaming services literally all the time. It’s so common you just expect it now.

Streaming isn’t a way to keep your favorite shows

If you really want to make sure that you don’t lose network content, there’s only one option: get an antenna. No, this won’t stop you from potentially losing stuff from Discovery or any national provider. But remember the top rated shows are all available on free TV with an antenna. Antenna TV can’t be blacked out due to contract disputes. Not now, not ever.

Hulu won’t save you either

People look at Hulu as a way to hedge their bets. It’s true that a lot of network content is on Hulu. CBS content isn’t, though. If you want more than the most recent episode, you’ll pay $7 a month just for CBS All Access.  And Hulu may lose even more content in the coming months. It’s now totally controlled by Disney, and that means ABC content as well as a lot of older shows just might start disappearing.

Choose an antenna from Solid Signal and you’ll be covered

Over 90% of people can get free over-the-air television by just putting up an antenna. Solid Signal has a massive selection and you’ll find just the right antenna by browsing. If you’re not sure which one to choose, get a free recommendation by filling out this form. We can help you get just what you need. With an antenna from Solid Signal, channel blackouts just won’t bother you anymore.

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 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.