How Carriage Disputes are Affecting American Pay TV Users

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Terming the negotiating approach of Dish Network® “bizarre”, the CEO of Univision Communications®, Vincent Sadusky, explained that the carriage dispute of the media company with the satellite provider is “likely permanent”.

While Sadusky issued warnings earlier along the same lines, his comments during the third quarter earnings call of the media giant with some Wall Street analysts signaled a fresh chapter in the era of cord cutting. Carriage disputes have gone rampant as the subscription-TV bundle now shows a strain of competing with cheap customer options, though the language’s finality is remarkable. Unsurprisingly, the impasse and the effect of it on Univision Communications® dominated its earnings call.

Taking into account Dish Network® packages of satellite TV and the company’s Sling TV® streaming service, it has millions of customers. Dish Network® packages for Hispanic audiences, served under its DishLATINO™ brand, enjoy a leading position in the US market. Yet Univision Communications® estimates many of those subscribers have switched.

Sadusky said that, “conversations have been ongoing,” when asked for the latest information on talks between the companies, “but we’ve been really challenged”. While the media company has taken “every reasonable effort,” he said, “it’s all about economics. It’s very odd that they’ve been unwilling to recognize the power of the Hispanic audience. It’s really strange. Normally, these conversations are challenging … but their position has been bizarre.”

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During the third quarter earnings call of Dish Network®, its chairman Charlie Ergen said that Univision’s blackout, and a new conflict with HBO®, explain why it lost many customers in Q3. However, he said that it had intensified to the point that he would risk even a backlash from customers in case he was to restore the network, given the likely increases in price that move could necessitate.

The third quarter outputs of Univision Communications® showed the carriage dispute’s impact with its revenue declining 17 percent. While the company is a privately held one, it has chosen to hold conference calls from time to time and report quarterly outputs to communicate them with both the investment community and media.

Vincent Sadusky joined Univision Communications® last year, replacing its previous CEO Randy Falco. He has strategically led a return to its traditional Hispanic media origins following a phase of exploring digital as well as crossover English content during the management under Falco.

Sadusky told analysts a marketing campaign would get going soon. The advertisements will inform its audiences about the end of the road with Dish Network®, pushing viewers toward the streaming service titled Univision Now or other subscription TV providers.