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CBS channels could return to Fubo TV under new deal

The CBS Building in New York City.
The CBS Building in New York City. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

The board comprised of independent CBS affiliate station owners has signaled its approval for a deal with the network’s parent company Paramount Global that could end a carriage dispute involving streaming service Fubo TV.

The proposed deal, first reported on Friday by Broadcasting & Cable, would also prevent a dispute with Google’s YouTube TV and the Walt Disney Company’s Hulu with Live TV, and keep hundreds of CBS affiliates on Paramount’s own flagship streaming service, Paramount Plus.

There were few specific details about the proposed agreement, but it reportedly includes sports fees and advertisement inventory units for local CBS affiliate owners, which includes Nexstar Media Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group, TEGNA, Hearst Television, Allen Media Group, Gray Television, Cox Media Group and others.

Less clear is whether the potential deal includes allowing independent station owners to negotiate carriage of their signals on streaming services, as they do with traditional cable and satellite companies. That element was at the center of the dispute that saw Fubo TV pull nearly 200 CBS affiliates in late January, replacing those stations with a national feed of CBS programming, which has been offered ever since.

Last week, Nexstar’s Chief Operating Officer Tom Carter said affiliate revenue from Fubo TV was small compared to cable, satellite and other services, but said the principle of the matter made the dispute with Fubo TV and Paramount Global worth it.

“[Streaming cable replacements] contribute less than 10 percent of our distribution revenue, and our distribution revenue is about half of our total revenue,” Carter said. “Fubo TV is the smallest [streaming srvice] we deal with, so we’re talking about a relatively minor amount of money, quite honestly, to both us and CBS.”

“It’s kind of easy to pick Fubo as a fight to have,” Carter affirmed.

Affiliate fee revenue has become a larger part of a television company’s business, The Desk has reported over the last year, with Fox Corporation, TEGNA and others stating through quarterly earnings reports that retransmission consent revenue has outpaced traditional advertising money.

Some of that is owed in part to a downturn in the ad market that has impacted both traditional and digital content products, including television. The 2022 midterm election helped bolster political advertisement revenue, partially offsetting a severe dip in non-political revenue at some companies.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).