On Thursday afternoon, a carriage dispute resulted in Dish Network dropping Fox, FS1, FS2, and Big Ten Network (and that’s after Dish pulled RSNs in July). According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, “Fox executives told Dish Network that it could keep its channels live while negotiating a new deal,” but Dish “rebuffed the offer.”
Source: This morning, Fox executives told Dish Network that it could keep its channels live while negotiating a new deal. Dish rebuffed the offer.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) September 26, 2019
This would be a big thing at any point of the year, but especially during football season in September.
For example, Thursday Night Football between the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles is currently taking place on Fox (though the game is also available on NFL Network and Amazon Prime, and for some customers that have an antenna).
And during a TNF commercial break, Fox released a commercial about Dish dropping the Fox channels. The commercial features a family sitting at a dinner table, and talking about no longer having football games to watch on Fox networks through Dish. The commercial ends with a phone number (1-800-KEEP-FOX) and website KEEPFOX.Com, urging customers to drop Dish or put pressure on the provider.
That’s a full-on scripted commercial featuring actors. Compare the Fox/Dish commercial to this impromptu commercial of ESPN firing a warning shot at AT&T customers during the AT&T/Disney carriage dispute earlier this month.
ESPN fires first warning shot at AT&T customers pic.twitter.com/Mk6IphOOQT
— Ben Koo (@bkoo) September 10, 2019
Quite a difference, right?
And Fox didn’t stop with just that TNF commercial. Here’s another scripted commercial that aired during the fourth quarter of TNF:
DISH Customers! DISH took FOX, FS1, BTN & more off your channel lineup. You have lost your favorite FOX shows-The Masked Singer, 9-1-1,& FOX Sports including NFL, college football & MLBonFOX Call 1-800-KEEP-FOX Visit https://t.co/CRf6JBLGkD to find another provider #KEEPFOXONDISH pic.twitter.com/TP9jyjm0sn
— FOX 2 Detroit (@FOX2News) September 26, 2019
And here’s Fox NFL studio host Curt Menefee telling viewers what upcoming sporting events (including many college football games, NFL games, and MLB games) they will miss on Dish Network:
A message for Dish and Sling customers regarding FOX TV stations, including FS1, BTN, and more. pic.twitter.com/O8hwbcGgrZ
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) September 27, 2019
Even school-specific BTN Twitter accounts tweeted out videos about the dispute:
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) September 26, 2019
And the Penn State Athletics account even has a video featuring head football coach James Franklin talking about the dispute:
DISH Customers! Dish took away college football on BTN and FS1, including Friday night’s Penn State vs. Maryland game on FS1 (8 PM ET). Millions will even lose their local FOX station. Don’t wait! Call DISH today at 1-800-KEEP-FOX or visit https://t.co/csyaa2macc. #KEEPFOXONDISH pic.twitter.com/mzg4r8sYSW
— Penn State Athletics (@GoPSUsports) September 27, 2019
When was that taped? When were the scripted commercials taped? Fox has clearly been prepared for Dish Network pulling the channels for a long while, and they’re now putting on an all-out blitz.
The effort Fox is putting into it should also tell us that they’re truly concerned about the negotiations and dispute. If it continues through the weekend with all of the football games scheduled on the Fox networks (and pennant race baseball games in MLB’s final weekend of the regular season), it’s fair to wonder when an agreement could be reached. And it’s right to be concerned that the answer could be, “not soon.”
One thing we can expect for sure: much more of these Fox commercials putting pressure on Dish during college football, NFL, and MLB games this weekend.