Dish Network’s customers cut off from HBO
The business dispute that yanked HBO off the air for millions of Americans on Nov. 1 is entering its second week with no signs of a respite.
As many as 2.5 million customers of HBO have lost access to shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld” through Dish Network, America’s second-largest satellite TV provider. The blackout affects another 10.2 million subscribers who aren’t signed up for HBO but who could be potential customers of the channel.
It’s the first time HBO has ever “gone dark,” in the parlance of TV execs. Viewers are being caught in the middle, with potential consequences on both sides: An extended outage could lead to significant customer losses.
The standoff between Dish and HBO stems from a seemingly run-of-the-mill contract negotiation over whether Dish should pay HBO for a guaranteed number of customers, whether those subscribers materialize or not.
But it also takes place against the backdrop of a historic Justice Department effort to scrutinize the increasingly concentrated media industry and to unwind the merger that gave control of HBO to one of the nation’s biggest telecom companies: AT&T.
The impasse reflects the legacy television business’s dire condition. What began as a trickle of consumers toward digital TV alternatives, such as Netflix and Hulu, has turned into a torrent, with analysts such as eMarketer predicting that 33 million Americans will have given up their pay-TV subscriptions by the end of the year.