Sinclair, Nexstar, Gray, Scripps, Hearst, Cox Media CBS Affiliates Leave FuboTV (Updated)

CBS is providing Fubo with a national feed of its programing, including ‘NCIS.’ (Image credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS)

Giant station owners Sinclair Broadcast Group, Nexstar Media Goup, Gray Television, E.W. Scripps Co., Tegna, Hearst Television and Cox Media Group have pulled their stations’ signals from FuboTV in a dispute with Paramount Global’s CBS Television Network, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The conflict shows some of the strains between networks and their affiliates at a time when media companies are shifting programming to direct-to-consumer streaming platforms.

Carriage deals for FuboTV and other streaming virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) have been handled at the network level, but the CBS affiliate board rejected the terms of the deal CBS negotiated with Fubo.

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CBS is providing a network feed — without local programming — to FuboTV for markets where affiliates have not agreed to the deal. The network is using programming from the CBS News Streaming Network to replace local newscasts.

CBS's owned and operated stations are being carried by Fubo, Fubo said.

Most individual station owners declined to comment. The affiliate board has hired a public relations agency to be able to put out a unified message. Hearst and Scripps confirmed their stations were no longer on Fubo.

UPDATE: Nexstar put out a statement: “Nexstar’s CBS stations are currently not available on the streaming service Fubo, denying Fubo subscribers the critically important local news, weather updates and other local programming we provide. This programming is being denied to Fubo subscribers because CBS’s owner, Paramount, has been unwilling to include Nexstar and other local broadcast groups in the negotiating process and unwilling to allow them to negotiate with Fubo on their own.”  

UPDATE: The only station group with a representative on the CBS Affiliate Board whose stations are still on Fubo is Allen Media Broadcasting, part of Allen Media Group. Allen Media Broadcasting said paperwork approving the deal was signed in error and sent to CBS. The company is trying to have its approval rescinded. “The arrangement that CBS has proposed is not appropriate,” Allen Media Broadcasting said. 

Neither CBS nor sports-focused Fubo has said how many CBS affiliates are allowing their signals to be streamed by Fubo after Monday’s deadline, which came after CBS’s broadcast of the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, one of the highest-rated telecasts of the year.

UPDATE: Fubo has published a website showing CBS affiliates and whether or not they're available on Fubo. One CBS affiliate noted several errors on the website, but said it appeared that non-CBS owned affiliates representing less than 10% of the country were still available on Fubo.

“CBS, through our Affiliate Board, provided our affiliates a fair opportunity to continue their carriage on FuboTV with short-term, mid-term and long-term options, including under the existing contract,“ CBS said in a statement. “Unfortunately and inexplicably, the Board did not endorse any of our multiple solutions. As a result, some CBS affiliates have elected to discontinue their local feeds on the FuboTV platform.

“In an effort to prevent a viewer disruption in affected markets, CBS may provide a network content feed to ensure that FuboTV subscribers retain access to news, sports and entertainment programming from America’s most-watched broadcast network,” CBS said. “We are committed to working in good faith, and we hope the Affiliate Board will reconsider the opportunity on behalf of its CBS affiliates.”

In a note to stations last week, the CBS affiliate board said it “remains adamantly opposed to Paramount’s insistence on controlling the retransmission rights of independently-owned local CBS affiliates on vMVPD platforms like Fubo.”

The board noted that “Paramount negotiates on behalf of 100% of all local stations in conjunction with Paramount’s other over two dozen cable networks. Once Paramount reaches an agreement conferring unknown value on its own cable channels and other assets, it presents a take-it-or-leave-it' offer to 'opt in' to a vMVPD distribution agreement with no changes.”

The board said it does not endorse the deal proposed by CBS. ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.