On November 1, 2018 HBO went dark for everyone using DISH Network. Unfortunately for thousands of customers, that dispute is still ongoing and HBO is still offline for anyone using DISH Network to try to access it.
This dispute is hot on the heels of another major network, Univision, leaving DISH over contract disputes. Recent comments from both companies make it seem as though that Univision blackout is going to be permanent.
Is that same permanence in the future for this HBO dispute? It’s hard to tell, but unlikely given the popularity of HBO, and upcoming final season of the popular HBO show Game of Thrones. Though, it is worth pointing out that this is the only time in HBO’s history that the network has ever gone into a blackout. That does suggest that the company has some serious issues with DISH Network.
Unsurprisingly, HBO makes up a substantial portion of DISH Network’s customers. All told, roughly 2.5 DISH subscribers have lost HBO access that they were paying for. Another 10.2 million customers were identified as potential customers that no longer have the option of purchasing the HBO channel through DISH Network.
Anyone affected by this outage does have the option of purchasing a subscription to HBO’s own streaming service, HBO GO. A fact the company has been widely publicizing.
So, what exactly is the nature of this dispute between DISH Network and HBO? It all comes down to a basic contract dispute. HBO wants DISH to pay for a certain number of HBO subscribers, regardless of whether that number of people actually subscribes, while DISH only wants to pay for the people that actually subscribe.
Dish’s chairman, Charlie Ergen spoke about this issue at a recent investor conference saying that “This is purely an anticompetitive play that we tried to warn about…AT&T knows full well that for many of our customers the only place they can go is to DirecTV, and they own HBO and they own DIRECTV…So they’re willing to make that trade-off.”.
It is impossible to say whether HBO and DISH will be able to solve this dispute. For now, DISH customers looking for their HBO fix are going to have to look elsewhere.