NEW YORK — On October 24, Univision Communications issued a warning that wasn’t all that surprising to DISH Network and Sling TV subscribers: Customers could soon lose access to Univision Deportes Network (UDN), the MVPD-distributed sports-focused network offered by Univision.
UDN had a separate retransmission fee agreement from the one that saw DISH yank all Univision and UniMás affiliates and O&Os, and the Galavisión network from its channel lineups across the country. This agreement also includes the FOROtv, TLNovelas and El Rey Network, the Robert Rodriguez-created English-language offering focused on action and adventure programming of interest to bicultural Latino audiences.
But, given the rancor between the two companies in what has been an ugly dispute with seemingly no resolution, a new UDN wasn’t expected, leaving viewers without yet another cable network en español. On Tuesday (11/13), DISH pulled the plug on Univision Deportes.
According to Univision, UDN in 2017 was the second most-watched sports network on Dish, regardless of language, sourcing Nielsen data for Adults 18-49 in broadcast prime.
A Univision spokesperson told RBR+TVBR in October that the loss of UDN would harm fans of Liga MX, the first-division soccer league in Mexico. Regarding the search for a new retransmission agreement, the company says, “When Univision launched UDN in 2012, it did so at a very modest rate. As a new network, UDN had to prove its value to MVPDs. Over the past six years, UDN has emerged as a 24/7/365 sports powerhouse that is experiencing continued growth.”
As seen in a hotel in midtown Manhattan, the following message appears where UDN should be:
What does DISH have to say regarding the latest move tied to a bitter impasse with Univision?
“While we again offered to extend our existing agreement so that negotiations could continue without further impacting our customers, unfortunately, Univision refused,” DISH said in a statement. “Instead, Univision has blocked Deportes, FOROtv, TLNovelas and El Rey from DishLATINO customers.”
The war of words continued, with DISH asserting that Univision’s story “remains the same.”
How so? “Its content, on the whole, continues to decline in viewership, and as a result, the economics of their proposals do not make sense. Meanwhile, Univision continues to sell its direct-to-consumer product, Univision NOW, at a lower price than Univision proposes charging DISH customers. We don’t think that’s right.”
How did Univision respond to the blackout on DISH and Sling TV of the four MVPD-distributed offerings?
“Dish has now gutted its Spanish-language offering, which until recently was a core part of its business,” it said. “Univision has made every reasonable effort and beyond to reach an agreement, but Dish refused to make a deal that was in the interests of our audience, its customers and, ultimately, of Dish itself. Given that Dish experienced its worst-ever quarterly subscriber losses after dropping the bulk of Univision’s networks and stations, its unwillingness to recognize the power of Hispanic consumers and the popularity of Univision’s leading news, sports and entertainment programming is bizarre and disappointing.”
While DishLATINO customers are receiving a $5 per month credit, along with “replacement content” and over-the-air antennas at no cost in markets where Univision is available over the air, the four networks dropped today by DISH are only distributed by MVPDs.