A&E Networks is the latest company warning customers that their channels will face a potential blackout on DirecTV. According to Variety, the deadline for a new carriage deal between the network body and TV service provider owned by AT&T is Tuesday, with A&E warning that a slew of their channels will go dark.
The two companies are looking to strike a new deal for DirecTV, the DirecTV Now streaming service and AT&T's U-verse platform. The channels affected will include A&E, History, Lifetime, Viceland, FYI, and more.
While the negotiations between the two continue, A&E has taken a proactive step Saturday to inform customers of what is happening, including a website urging customers to call DirecTV about the situation and a crawl on their affected networks noting the upcoming deadline.
"AT&T has not demonstrated a willingness to negotiate reasonably," A&E Networks Group CEO Paul Buccieri said in a memo to staff on Saturday. "The deal we are seeking is based on the same fair market terms that have allowed us to reach deals with numerous other providers. AT&T simply has not yet demonstrated that they recognize the value of our programming and the high regard we have for our viewers -- including AT&T's own customers."
The situation echoes a recent similar situation with Viacom that went well past the deadline with AT&T before a deal was reached. Before that moment, the company used its network stars and programming to send a message to customers about the impending blackout of their channels, including AT&T and Comedy Central.
"Unfortunately, AT&T is abusing its new market position by favoring its own content -- which significantly underperforms Viacom's -- to stifle competition," Viacom released in a statement during the standoff. "Viacom is committed to developing strong relationships with our distribution relationships representing more than half our subscriber base over the last two years and have not had a disruption in our service since 2014."
The tense negotiations are a new reality for AT&T according to Variety. The company is "under pressure" to improve financials with DirecTV due to the debt loaded on after the company acquired the platform and Time Warner in 2015 and 2018 respectively. Many networks see this as an unfair strategy, especially with AT&T's own channels being part of the platform.
“Having recently acquired WarnerMedia, AT&T appears intent on using their new position to gain an unfair advantage for their own channels,” Buccieri added in his statement. “Many, including the U.S. Department of Justice, were concerned that AT&T would have the ability and incentive to discriminate against programmers like A+E Networks and others like us. It seems that concern has become a reality.”0comments
DirecTV is not alone in feeling this type of pressure. Dish has had its standoffs in the past, with their situation with HBO giving Game of Thrones fans a fit. Meanwhile, others are feeling competition from Hulu and YouTube, offering similar services for cheaper.
The two companies will have until Tuesday to figure out a new deal. That means if they miss the deadline, shows like Live PD, Dance Moms, and more will be off the table for DirecTV viewers.