According to Ray Cole, AT&T and Disney are extending their talks for a carriage agreement until 9 AM ET on Saturday morning, after an apparent deadline had been set for midnight ET on Friday night. AT&T-owned television distributors include DirecTV, U-verse, and AT&T Now.
As Cole notes, that 9 AM ET time goes right into the slot of ESPN’s very popular college football pregame show, College GameDay.
10:45pm CT update: the negotiations are continuing into the night and the parties have agreed to an extension until 9 am EDT tomorrow. That puts the new expiration right on top of the start of the @CollegeGameDay originating from Ames, IA. No joke. https://t.co/V6S3whmXsL
— Ray Cole (@raycoletv) September 14, 2019
And that’s ahead of a day full of college football games on Disney-owned networks such as ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, ESPNU, SEC Network, and ACC Network.
ESPN blitzed AT&T viewers with ads and Bottom Line ticker updates during Monday’s Broncos-Raiders game as a warning shot about the carriage dispute with AT&T. The ads contained threats suggesting AT&T viewers could miss this upcoming Monday’s Browns-Jets game, as well as Saturday’s Florida-Kentucky college football game.
DirecTV has also been blocking out ESPN’s Bottom Line on occasion when the network mentions the carriage dispute. That continued during Friday night’s Houston-Washington State game, along with commercials warning customers of ESPN potentially being pulled. However, when midnight ET came along, the Disney-owned channels did not go dark (though the warnings remained), and we now know that’s because the sides agreed to a (very) short-term extension to continue negotiating.
It’s midnight and ESPN has a good game early in the 4th quarter but is still showing messages that channels may go soon go dark on DirecTV
— Ben Koo (@bkoo) September 14, 2019
Additionally, conferences have even been warning fans of the dispute. The SEC tweeted this out on Friday morning:
Attention @SEC fans!
Visit https://t.co/VG8i4nh0K0 for the latest info.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) September 13, 2019
If the sides aren’t able to come to an agreement, there will be many, many angry football fans and TV subscribers. Keep in mind that just about any sports bar you go to in America has DirecTV as well.
It’s hard to imagine it coming to that. If a new deal between the two sides isn’t reached before Saturday’s games, it would seem likely that they will at least extend a negotiating window (again), rather than pulling the Disney-owned channels on a September football weekend.