Not even a global health crisis could stop the latest pay-TV carriage dispute from turning into a massive blackout.
More than five million subscribers to Dish Network satellite TV service woke up on Thursday to find broadcast networks owned by Nexstar Media Group had gone dark in what Dish referred to as the “largest broadcast affiliate station blackout in TV history.” Nexstar says the blackout affects 164 local stations, including affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, The CW, and MyNet.
As is standard practice during a carriage dispute, both companies are publicly blaming each other. “We made a fair offer to keep Nexstar stations available to our customers, but Nexstar rejected it,” Brian Neylon, Dish TV’s group president, said in a statement. Meanwhile, Nexstar countered, “Following Dish’s actions, Dish subscribers in 115 Nexstar markets from Los Angeles to Charlotte have lost access to thousands of hours of vitally important local news, just as the country prepares for an explosion in new coronavirus cases and a new President prepares to take office.”
One point of contention appears to be WGN America, a Nexstar-owned cable network, which Dish said it did not want to carry due to “declining viewership.” WGN has also gone dark on Dish systems. (Dish, it’s worth mentioning, is no stranger to blackouts.)
Sadly, it’s viewers who get caught in the middle of these disputes, which always seem perfectly timed to interrupt popular local sporting events—like the many NFL and college football games scheduled to happen this weekend.
The good news is, there are alternative ways to watch these networks without cable or satellite. And who knows? You may discover your inner cord-cutter and never look back! We’ve rounded up some options below:
- OTA antenna: This is the obvious choice if you have an over-the-air antenna. Most of the affected stations are free broadcast affiliates.
- Locast: This is a great choice if you live in one of the 23 markets where it’s available. The free nonprofit streaming service lets you watch broadcast networks over the internet. Find it here.
- YouTube TV: This subscription service from YouTube. It’s not exactly cheap, but it includes broadcast affiliates in most areas. Check your zip code first and make sure the local station you want is available before you sign up. Find it here.
- Hulu with Live TV: Similar to to above. Not cheap, but it’s a big bundle with lots of networks. If you’ve never signed up before, you can probably get a free week. Find it here.
- FuboTV: Another popular cable-like bundle. Find it here.