Dish Chair Says Deal With Fox RSNs May Never Be Reached
Dish Network Chair Charlie Ergen "dug his heels in the sand" regarding the blackout of 16 Fox RSNs last Friday, saying that it is "possible a deal will never be reached," according to Mike Farrell of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. Ergen on Monday said that although he "wants to do business with the RSNs and their expected new owner Sinclair Broadcast Group, he may not be able to." Dish has "complained that the RSNs are too expensive, while the programmers insist they are merely asking for fair value for their content." Ergen said that the "longer the dispute drags on, the lesser the chances for a resolution." He added that after about one month without the networks, most customers will "forget they ever had an RSN." Farrell noted Ergen has "made similar provocative statements in other carriage disputes, only to eventually strike a deal." Dish has had a "spotty history" with RSNs. Dish has never carried YES Network, while MSG Networks and SNY both "went dark to those subscribers" in '10 and '11 and have "yet to return" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 7/30).
DOLLARS & CENTS: Ergen said that the high cost of carrying the Fox RSNs "may justify dropping them altogether." He said, "They are not very good economic deals for us. We have real data that tells us that the channels are overpriced, and Fox had a lot of leverage to get people to overpay when they owned them." AD AGE's Anthony Crupi noted other than ESPN and its family of spinoff networks, "no programming costs cable and satellite TV customers more than the top-tier RSNs." If the math "goes a long way toward explaining why Dish is willing to alienate more than a few of the sports fans in its subscriber base, Ergen didn’t entirely slam the door on the prospect of a renewal with the RSNs." Ergen: "We will lose some customers. I hate it that we lose customers. But, I also feel really good about the fact that maybe the vast majority of our customers can get a price break" (ADAGE.com, 7/30).