If you tuned in to join the national craze and watch the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final on Sunday, you have have encountered an unpleasant surprise.
If you’re a DirecTV subscriber, you might have missed out on Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan and U.S. Women’s National Team beating the Netherlands 2-0 to win the World Cup.
Spare me your opinions on soccer, women’s sports (because to some of you, equality in women’s sporting events is still apparently an issue worth debating), and Megan Rapinoe. A World Cup final happens once every four years. The United States getting to play for the Golden Ball is never guaranteed.
The Women’s World Cup final was more than a soccer match, it was a societal event that is and will be influential to our culture. Undoubtedly, thousands of people missed out on seeing this significant event because of a disagreement between two corporations: Nexstar and AT&T.
DirecTV and AT&T U-verse “unilaterally dropped the network and local community programming for over 120 stations impacting consumers and viewers in 97 markets across the United States,” according to Nexstar.
When it comes to over-the-air options for television in the Springfield metro area, we are down to three ownership groups. There is Nexstar, which owns our CBS and FOX affiliates, there is Gray Television, owners of the NBC and ABC stations, and Ozarks Public Television.
Nexstar Broadcasting Group owns and operates 174 television stations in 100 different television markets. It’s estimated that Nexstar stations reach more than 38 percent of U.S. television households. In Springfield, that’s KOLR10 and KRBK.
Missing the Women’s World Cup may not be a big deal to you, but what about the NFL? If you’re like my dad, what about new episodes of NCIS? Nexstar is asking another important question: what about local news coverage?
There will be some angry, angry Kansas City Chiefs fans if this situation isn’t resolved pronto.
The now very public dispute between AT&T and Nexstar has turned into a battle of finger pointing through press releases. In soccer, it would be like two players from opposite sides both flopping to take dives, then gesturing toward the opposing player without anyone actually making contact and the ball rolling harmlessly out of play.
“We had hoped to prevent Nexstar from pulling its stations from our customers’ lineups and we offered Nexstar more money to keep them available,” an AT&T press release read. “Nexstar simply said no and elected to remove them instead. Nexstar has chosen to hold our customers hostage and put them into the center of its negotiations. This is the same old Nexstar playbook. They pull or threaten to pull their signals from customers of many distributors to increase fees for ‘free TV’ stations that far exceed their value.”
Nexstar maintains that its stations are highly-valued.
“Contrary to AT&T’s public statements, Nexstar in no way pulled its stations or asked for their removal,” a Nexstar press release says. “Nexstar is also reiterating its offer of an unconditional extension of the existing distribution agreement for 30 days to restore the blacked-out programming to viewers and allow the parties to reach a new agreement.”
The sooner these two parties come to terms, the sooner the rest of us can get back to enjoying NCIS and live sports. Ultimately, this disagreement hurts AT&T and Nexstar more than anything, though both try to pass the grief onto their customers. As consumers, we can consider alternatives like another satellite provider or cable, or do as we hear more and more friends and neighbors are doing and “cut the cord.”