Attention A&T TV NOW, DIRECTV and U-verse subscribers. Don't be surprised if an AT&T Disney blackout takes effect this weekend. One that affects ESPN and Disney-owned channels.
Earlier this week it became clear a new carriage dispute between AT&T and The Walt Disney Co. was taking place. There was a suggestion that if a deal was not reached it could result in a channel blackout. However, it was unclear when that might happen.
Various reports are coming through today that if a deal is not reached in time, the blackout could start as soon as tonight.
Southeastern Conference warning of AT&T Disney blackout
Although AT&T and Disney have both recently confirmed the issue, neither have provided an official statement on today's news. Instead, the information comes from the Southeastern Conference.
Various Twitter accounts related to the SEC have been advising of the issue. Likewise, an official statement has gone out (see here) explaining what's happening in more detail.
Again, the statement does not say when a blackout might take effect. However, tweets, including by the official SEC and Greg Sankey (the SEC Commissioner) accounts suggest a blackout is likely to start this weekend. The tweets are effectively warning customers of this happening which is a good indication it is likely to happen.
The fallout of AT&T and Disney dispute
While the bulk of today's news is coming from the SEC, that's only a small part of what's at stake here. An AT&T Disney blackout would also affect ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel and Freeform. As well as all ABC-related locals and affiliates.
The dispute itself seems to be purely about money. In the latest statement, the SEC says "AT&T has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement," citing other operators it has reached similar agreements with as justification.
AT&T has been involved in multiple disputes this year, including one with CBS. The company also released a shareholders update this week that explained it routinely now takes a 'hard line' with content providers.
According to AT&T, this is an intentional move by the company to reduce costs. Even though it is one AT&T believes is causing some subscribers to leave the service.
If you are an AT&T video subscriber and intend to watch any of the channels mentioned, including SEC games over the weekend, it might be time to start considering a backup plan.