Almost half a million DirecTV subscribers found themselves in the dark Sunday night, after a dispute between DirecTV and Sunbeam Television meant they missed the Packers-Giants NFL playoff game (spoiler: Giants won) and then the Golden Globes.
Areas affected included Miami, where 250,000 customers of Fox-affiliate WSVN reside, and Boston, which has 200,000 viewers of CW affiliate WLVI and NBC affiliate WHDH. Any subscriber settling down in those areas to enjoy the game and slebs will have been sorely disappointed.
Reportedly, DirecTV made a direct request to Sunbeam to air the game without a contract (lulz). Not very amazingly, Sunbeam declined. And that’s when the finger-pointing began.
DirecTV rapidly released a statement last night about the situation, essentially accusing Sunbeam of attempting to rip customers off. DirecTV, implied the statement, was simply standing up for its customers’ rights:
“DirecTV is working hard to bring back your local channel as quickly as possible, but we are standing firm on behalf of our customers against Sunbeam and WHDH, LLC attempts to extort a more than 300 percent fee increase to carry WSVN in Miami, and WHDH and WLVI in Boston. Paying such outrageous fees will only cause your DIRECTV bill to go even higher and we are doing everything we can to prevent that.”
I’m not sure how many tempers that would have calmed, but as you might have guessed, with no game to watch, Twitter provided a stage for many raging subscribers. The social media site was awash with protest tweets to DirecTV, who could do little but sheepishly tweet back to customers directions on how they might pick up the signal from out-of-area transmissions.
Sunbeam hasn’t passed any comment, though WHDH had a notice on the front page of its site saying:
“We are working hard to reach an agreement with DirecTV so that you can receive our signal again. Until we do you will not be able to view WHDH and WLVI on DirecTV, but you can receive Channel 7 and Channel 56 over the air and from other cable and satellite providers. We are seeking fair market value for the transmission of our signal. We have been able to negotiate deals with several other providers. We appreciate your viewership and hope to be back on DirecTV as soon as possible.”
What a sorry mess. Did anyone here miss the game or Ricky Gervais doing his not-actually-that-shocking roasting shtick?