The latest high-profile carriage dispute that caused customers to lose access to certain channels was between Nexstar and Verizon Fios, which lasted about two weeks. Affecting customers in New York, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and other markets, the dispute impacted just over two million subscribers who could not watch Nexstar-owned channels, including thirteen local television stations.
The dispute deprived viewers of the ability of viewers in some markets to watch “Jeopardy,” as well as sporting events like the World Series and NFL games. Channels and their local news coverage have also been restored ahead of the midterm elections, a week from tomorrow.
However, the dispute ended on Friday, when the parties reached a new multi-year agreement.
“Good news! We’ve been able to reach an agreement with Nexstar to resume airing their programming. We appreciate your patience during these negotiations, and we thank you for your support. Thanks for choosing Verizon,” Verizon said in a statement announcing the agreement.
“The agreement means that more than three million Verizon FiOS subscribers will again have access to the highly-rated network and local entertainment, live sports, and news programming provided by these local television stations and by NewsNation, home to “On Balance with Leland Vittert,” “Cuomo,” “Dan Abrams Live,” and “Banfield,” Nexstar said in their statement. “The agreement will ensure that Verizon subscribers won’t miss a moment of Major League Baseball’s World Series, which begins tonight, or any of this weekend’s college and NFL Football games.”
Such disputes are far from rare. A much larger one took place in late 2020 between Nexstar and Dish, which affected more than five million customers and 164 local channels, and was described at the time as the largest such dispute in history. The Fios dispute was comparatively minor, partly because Fios is not available throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the Fios pay-TV service has lost 259,000 subscribers in the first three quarters of 2022, including a loss of 95,000 in the third quarter alone. The service now has 3.3 million subscribers. The company did add 272,000 broadband subscribers in the third quarter. This was independent of the Nexstar dispute, which began after the third quarter ended.
Leichtman Research Group reported last month that 66 percent of U.S. households now have some form of pay-TV service.
“Two-thirds of U.S. TV households now get a live pay-TV service, a significant decrease from 79% five years ago,” said Bruce Leichtman, President and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “The decline in pay-TV subscribers is not solely a function of those disconnecting services, but is also related to a slowdown in those entering or reentering the category,” the firm said. “Overall, about 10.5% of TV households last subscribed to a pay-TV service in the past three years, 12% last subscribed over three years ago, and 11.5% never subscribed.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.