One frustration that DISH subscribers will encounter once in a while happens when DISH renegotiates one of their carriage agreements with a content provider. As you probably already know, DISH doesn’t simply broadcast all the content they provide from networks like ABC, CBS, NBC or HBO without paying for it first. DISH has to come to an agreement with broadcasters regarding how much they will pay for the right to broadcast the programming all the networks, studios and independent artists provide. I don’t really know how much DISH or any other broadcaster pays for those kinds of things but it’s bound to be a lot of money.
When DISH cuts a deal to broadcast programming from a provider they establish a contract that allows DISH to broadcast their programming for a fixed period of time for a certain amount of money. When a contract like that expires, it has to be renegotiated or terminated. Naturally, DISH wants to provide content that’s attractive as possible for subscribers and potential subscribers, so it’s in their best interest to make deals with popular content providers in order to stay competitive in the marketplace.
Most of the time contracts are successfully renegotiated pretty quickly and subscribers never see any interruption in their programming. In other cases, the content provider may be demanding a substantial increase in the fee that they charge DISH to continue broadcasting their content and that sometimes leads to trouble.
DISH is very well-known for their tendency to drive a hard bargain when it comes to negotiating contracts and sometimes those negotiations can take a while. Unfortunately for subscribers, this sometimes results in channels being removed from DISH’s programming line-up while the negotiations take place. Oftentimes the negotiations only take a few days and the channel comes back on the air quickly and at other times the negotiations can drag on for an extended period, leaving DISH subscribers with a bit of a “hole” in their channel line-up for a few weeks or even months. It’s a kind of high stakes poker game while executives and negotiators from each side try to come to an agreement.
Like any negotiation, there are two sides to the story. News reports usually quote programming providers who claim DISH is being unreasonable and expecting too much for too little money, while DISH often states that they are working hard to keep prices low for their subscribers by refusing to pay too much for programming content. For a DISH subscriber this can be a frustrating time and it is often hard to tell who makes the better argument to explain the extended channel outage.
What DISH tells customers about keeping prices low really does make sense since the more DISH has to pay programming providers, the more they will have to charge subscribers who want access to that programming. It puts the DISH decision makers in a tough spot because they want to keep prices low and also avoid angering customers who may be missing out on watching one of their favorite channels while the negotiations drag on.
Other broadcasters like cable television companies and DISH’s direct competitor DirecTV have to make the same deals that DISH does in order to provide programming for their subscribers and their customers also have to endure losing a channel now and then. To be honest however, DISH is probably the toughest and most stubborn negotiator in the industry, and that might make it a bit more likely for DISH subscribers to experience losing channels a bit more than subscribers to other broadcast services.
As a fan of DISH network myself, it brings me no particular pleasure to note that fact that DISH’s tough negotiation tactics could result in lost of channels once in a while for subscribers, but this is simply the truth and I always try to keep that first and foremost here. Losing channels due to contract negotiations is pretty rare and I do not ever recall losing a channel permanently during the 16 years I was a DISH subscriber. DISH always seems to come to an agreement with whatever broadcaster they happen to be negotiating with so it’s usually just a matter of patience until deleted channels are returned to the programming line-up.