Carry: Dish Has Lost 90,000 Subs from Fox News Blackout

Tim Carry says Dish’s disconnect from Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network has been a costly one for the No. 2 DBS provider.

Carry, executive vice president of distribution for FNC and FBN, estimated that Dish has lost some 90,000 subscribers since the channels were removed from the provider's 14 million subscribers late on Dec. 20.

He based the total on the number of viewers that have reached out to the website and 888-numbers, and others that have contacted Dish directly.

Carry said that a combined 350,000 have called about or visited the section of the Fox website providing a list of alternative providers in the viewers’ area. He said the numbers began picking up on Dec. 26, after the Christmas holiday.

Given “dwell times” reaching four to five minutes, Carry said the programmer has extrapolated that at least 45,000 of these respondents have dropped Dish.

He said those are not the only means for network viewers to express their disconnect displeasure and intention to move one, and projects that a like number have contacted Dish directly to drop the provider.

“We think they’ve lost about 90,000 subscribers over the past two weeks tied to Fox News,” he said.

A Dish spokesman said, "As is our policy, we don't comment on rumor and speculation."

Fox officials say Dish dropped the signals for the two networks at 11:50 p.m. on Dec. 20, 10 minutes ahead of the expiration of their contract. Dish maintains that Fox that pulled the plug and introduced a third unrelated service into the discussions.

Carry said the parties have yet to connect since:  “They have not spoken to us at all.  There has not been any outreach on any level. Their positioning that they are actively negotiating rings hollow.”

Dish CEO Charlie Ergen in a Christmas Eve video on said the parties were nearing a deal, even though Fox News was looking for an increase doubling its rate – a hike he said was somewhat justified given its leadership status in the space. He said the talks, broke down when Fox introduced a third network into the conversation, for which it was eyeing a “surcharge” that would have trebled the cost for a service that was not scheduled to expire “for some time.” Ergen didn’t identify the service.

Many believe that network in question was either Fox Sports 1 or FXX, which were converted from Speed and Fox Soccer Channel on Aug. 17, 2013 and Sept. 2, 2013, respectively. Many distributors launched the services at that forbears’ monthly license fee: some 23 cents for Speed and 18 cents for Fox Soccer.  

Carry maintains his position that the blackout is tied to the networks in question.

“These are big companies with many assets and properties,” he said. “Other things were discussed, but the negotiations broke down over core issues to Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.”

As to ratings slippage the cable news leader has sustained over the past couple of weeks following the blackout, Fox News officials attribute the downturn to the loss of Dish's overall subscriber base, those who may switched providers and are not yet being measured by Nielsen, as well as a disruption in viewing patterns during the year-end holiday period. The Nielsen numbers should come into sharper view as the nation returns to more typical professional and personal schedules this week.