DirecTV Dispute Keeps Viewers From Watching NFL Playoffs

Miami Dolphins fans are used to their team missing the playoffs, but they’re usually still allowed to watch other teams play out the postseason on DirecTV. That wasn’t the case this weekend, though, because a carriage dispute between the satellite provider and the owner of Miami’s Fox affiliate caused the channel to black out throughout the weekend. Two NFL playoff games were the highest-profile casualties of the tiff.

As the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports, the problem affected 270,000 households. DirecTV-subscribing sports bars were forced to resort to antennas and cable broadcasts to carry the games.

Sunbeam Television, which owns Miami Fox affiliate WSVN, as well as Boston NBC and CW affiliates, pulled its programming at midnight Friday because it wasn’t able to work out a new deal. Sunbeam is reportedly significantly upping the amount it’s charging DirecTV, which says its asking price isn’t fair because Comcast pays far less to the company. A Sunbeam rep says it’s only seeking market value and will renegotiate its deal with Comcast in July.

While TV providers often engage in public contract disputes with carriers, they’re usually settled before things get this ugly. With the NFC championship game approaching and a new season of American Idol set to debut, both parties are victimizing viewers by failing to play nice.

And the problem isn’t endemic to Florida. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that a similar standoff between Verizon FiOS and a CBS affiliate owner in Harrisburg, Penn. kept playoff games off the air in parts of Pennsylvania.

Football fans blacked out in DirecTV dispute [South Florida Sun-Sentinel via Deadline]