Ending a two-and-a-half month impasse, DirecTV and leading station owner Nexstar Media Group have agreed to restore the signals of dozens of stations as the companies work to finalize a carriage renewal.
About 159 ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and CW affiliates as well as cable network NewsNation went dark July 2 due to a fight over distribution terms. The rift was followed by a shorter but even more closely tracked one between Disney and Charter, which ended last week after a 10-day outage.
Nexstar is the No. 1 local-station owner in the U.S., and DirecTV is the country’s third-largest pay-TV provider. Top markets affected by the fight included L.A., Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver, including such marquee stations as KTLA and WGN. The exact number of DirecTV subscribers affected has been a matter of dispute. Nexstar has said it is more than 10 million of DirecTV’s base of almost 13 million, while DirecTV has maintained the number is significantly lower.
“In recognition and appreciation of the continued patience of DirecTV customers and Nexstar viewers, the companies have agreed to temporarily return the signals of the Nexstar-owned stations and national cable news network NewsNation to DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and U-verse while we both work to complete the terms of an agreement,” the companies said in a joint statement in the early hours of Sunday.
Given the large number of local stations and metro areas involved, signals will be restored on a rolling, station-by-station basis, a source indicated, with the goal of lighting back up the stations showing Sunday NFL games. Week 2 of the NFL season starts today.
The mid-summer timing of the impasse did not help to hasten a deal, but the return of college and NFL football created additional pressure, as in the case of Disney-Charter.