Altice avoids carriage dispute between Optimum, Fox

An Optimum customer service center located in New Jersey.
An Optimum customer service center located in New Jersey. (Photo by Jonathan Schilling via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

Subscribers of Altice-owned cable company Optimum did not have to miss a minute of NFL football this weekend after the company was able to reach an agreement to keep Fox programming on its systems.

Last Thursday, Altice warned Optimum customers that they risked losing several Fox cable channels as well as access to one of four Fox owned-and-operated stations if they could not reach a new carriage agreement by the end of Friday.

According to Altice, Fox demanded higher fees in exchange for the right to provide the channels to nearly three million Optimum cable TV customers. Several cable channels had the potential to be removed from Optimum systems across the country, including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Sports 1 (FS1), Fox Sports 2 (FS2) and the Big 10 Network.

The dispute also had the potential to impact six Fox-owned broadcast stations, including four that carry the network’s programming. The stations that could have been dropped included:

  • WNYW (Channel 5, Fox) in New York City
  • WWOR-TV (Channel 9, MyNetwork) in New York City
  • KSAZ (Channel 10, Fox) in Phoenix
  • KUTP (Channel 45, MyNetwork) in Phoenix
  • KRIV (Channel 26, Fox) in Houston
  • KDFW (Channel 4, Fox) in Dallas

In a statement, a spokesperson for Altice said Fox was “demanding unprecedented and excessive fee increases that would raise TV bills,” though the company didn’t specify how much the fees would go up.

Before the weekend started, the crisis was averted. It is unclear if Altice ultimately agreed to the fee increase, or if the agreement will result in any additional channels being added to Optimum systems. In the past, carriage renewals resulted in some companies adding the Tubi app to Internet-connected set-top boxes, while other agreements saw Fox Weather added to a customer’s package.

While the Altice-Fox carriage dispute ultimately didn’t materialize, customers of other pay television systems have not been so lucky this month.

On October 1, Dish Network said it was forced to drop several Disney-owned cable channels, including ESPN, FX and Freeform, from its line-up after the two sides failed to reach a new agreement. The blackout impacted customers of Dish’s satellite service as well as its streaming service, Sling TV. The channels were restored within two days.

Last week, Verizon Fios pulled nearly a dozen local TV stations owned by Nexstar Media Group after Verizon accused Nexstar of demanding a 64 percent increase in fees. The issue also saw the removal of Nexstar’s only national channel, the news-centric NewsNation, from Verizon Fios. The two sides still have not reached a new agreement as of Sunday evening.