In the latest battle between a sports network and a cable/satellite provider, chalk this one up for the subscribers. Throughout the summer, we've been following the potential for a blackout of the ESPN Family of Networks on Dish Network. As the September 30 deadline approached, both sides agreed to keep ESPN and its sister Disney networks plus locally owned ABC affiliates on Dish systems for the short term. It's not known how long that agreement will last, but it's a good sign that both sides are talking towards a long-term solution.
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has stated in the past that he would be willing to play hardball and pull ESPN if the two sides could not reach a deal. Although it's early in the process, it is encouraging to see that this negotiation hasn't turned to mudslinging as the contentious CBS/Time Warner Cable dispute did.
For the time being, Dish subscribers will see ESPN at its regular channel position. However, as with other negotiations, these talks could turn on a dime to the point where signals are pulled and both sides dig in their heels.
Right now, all signs are positive that an agreement can be reached, but that could change if there's not a handshake by the time the next deadline rolls around.
As usual, we'll be watching.