Dish Network may be playing hardball with Turner Broadcasting’s smaller networks, but it is facing a deadline in the next several weeks that could keep National Basketball Association regular season games away from its 14 million customers across the country.
Dish, claiming that Turner is demanding exorbitant financial terms for its networks, said the programmer pulled seven of its channels – Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, CNN en Español, HLN, truTV and Turner Classic Movies – on Oct. 20. Missing from the mix were Turner’s top two channels – TNT and TBS, but sources familiar with the matter said Dish’s carriage deal for those two channels expires before the end of the year.
TNT and TBS are Turner’s priciest networks – according to SNL Kagan, TNT receives carriage fees of $1.44 per month per subscriber and TBS, known more for re-airings of syndicated sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory receives $0.69 per subscriber per month. The other networks collectively receive about $1.57 per subscriber per month, according to Kagan.
While both channels have weathered some ratings softness in the past several months, TNT is about to enter one of its strongest ratings periods – NBA season. Earlier this month, ESPN and Turner signed a $24 billion rights deal with the NBA over nine years, beginning with the 2016-17 season. TNT is scheduled to air its first pre-season NBA game tonight (Oct.21) at 8 p.m. between the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat, followed at 10:30 p.m. by the L.A. Clippers vs. The Golden State Warriors. TNT kicks off the regular season on Nov.6 with the San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets at 8 p.m. and the Dallas Mavericks at the Portland Trailblazers at 10:30 p.m.
Dish spokesman Bob Toevs declined comment.Turner, spokeswoman Rachelle Savoia also declined comment.
Dish also faces another possible sports blackout next month. The satellite company's deal with broadcaster CBS -- which carries National Footballl League games as well as other top sports -- is slated to expire around the Thanksgiving holiday, according to sources familiar with both companies. CBS declined comment.