Earlier this week, the latest carriage dispute between a pay TV provider and a TV station group led to another blackout. This one is between the AT&T-owned DirecTV and Cox Media Group, leading to the blocking of twenty stations, including cities as large as Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Memphis, Orlando, Pittsburgh and Seattle.
The blackout doesn’t affect as many customers as DirecTV’s dispute last year with TEGNA, but it does come at an especially inconvenient time for customers. The Super Bowl is this Sunday, and the blackout could affect the ability of those in these cities, in which CBS affiliates are affected, from watching the game.
However, these days there are other ways to watch, and AT&T is letting DirecTV customers know about those options.
Per TV Technology, AT&T has put out a statement letting customers know other ways for watching the game.
“In what’s become an unfortunate near-annual rite to the NFL Playoffs, Cox Media Group is once again holding this year’s most-watched event of the year—the Super Bowl—hostage from NFL fans in Seattle and four smaller cities the broadcaster remains licensed to serve,” said the Seattle version of the letter, per that website.
“However, the fans that Cox would otherwise hope to inconvenience can still watch the game without any additional costs,” the letter said. “The NFL and CBS will live stream Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. EST game without requiring a subscription at several websites and mobile apps. This includes CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports Apps and the NFL app,”
Other options include the use of an HD antenna, and the service Locast.
That matches what CBS said last month about the different ways fans can catch the big game. The Super Bowl is airing unauthenticated on both the CBS Sports app and CBSSports.com, in addition to CBS All Access and the Verizon-owned Yahoo Sports app.
Also this week, the American Television Alliance (ATVA), of which AT&T is a member, wrote a letter to the FCC, attacking Cox’s majority owner, Apollo Global Management, of engineering the dispute.
“The New York private equity giant Apollo Global Management has directed its Cox Media Group subsidiary to pull CBS stations from tens of thousands of AT&T customers,” the letter said. “AT&T is a member of the American Television Alliance. It says—and we have every reason to believe it—that Apollo Global has chosen to use the moment in which it can inflict maximum harm on viewers in order to extract maximum fees well into the future. Apollo Global, in other words, is engaging less in a negotiation than in a shakedown.”
Meanwhile, medical experts are warning football fans not to hold Super Bowl parties this Sunday, due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
“You don’t want parties with people that you haven’t had much contact with,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on The Today Show this week.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to 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.