Optimum customers could lose Fox channels right before MLB playoffs
The nearly 1 million Optimum cable subscribers in New Jersey could find some Fox channels dark starting on Monday just before the MLB playoffs begin amid an ongoing contract dispute between the companies.
The affected channels include the main Fox network channel, FX, and Fox Sports 1, according to Fox. That means customers of Optimum, which is now owned by Altice, wouldn’t be able to watch NFL or college football in addition to some Major League Baseball postseason games scheduled to air on those channels.
Fans tuning in just to watch the Yankees wouldn’t be affected by the channel losses unless the team reaches the World Series as the American League Wild Card game, Division Series and League Championship series will all air on TBS. Fox owns the rights to the National League playoffs and the World Series.
At least eight more Giants games and seven Eagles contests after Oct. 1 are slated to be televised by Fox. Only two Jets games are scheduled be shown by Fox from October through the end of the regular season.
Other channels that customers might lose are: FXX, FXM, FS2, FOX Deportes, National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD.
Fox-owned channels such as Fox News, Fox Business, FOX College Sports, BTN and YES wouldn’t be affected.
Each side said they are negotiating in good faith and blamed the other in strongly worded statements.
“We are currently negotiating with 21st Century Fox and are disappointed that they have started threatening to black out certain channels in an effort to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in new fees from us and our customers,” Optimum said in an emailed statement on Tuesday morning. “Programming costs are the greatest contributor to rising cable costs, and we urge Fox to stop its threats and instead focus on negotiating an agreement that is fair for consumers.”
Meanwhile, Fox said the fault lies with the cable provider.
“Fox’s deal with Altice for most Fox networks expires soon, and we’ve been unable to reach a new deal, despite our efforts over the past several months, ” a statement from Fix said. “Altice refused to engage in any substantive discussion until just last week and is now asking for preferential treatment that does not reflect the marketplace. Fox’s priority is our viewers, and we feel it is our responsibility to inform Altice customers that they may not be able to watch (our programming).”
Fox urged Optimum customers to explore switching to either satellite providers or to one of the many so-called “cord-cutting” streaming services available.
Earlier this year, Optimum customers lost Starz, Starz Encore and related channels for about six weeks.
Last year, Optimum made a last-minute to deal with Disney before New York’s WABC, A&E networks, History, the Disney Channel, Lifetime as well as all ESPN channels were pulled from their systems.
Optimum serves hundreds of communities in north and Central Jersey as well as in New York and Connecticut. Altice has more than 4.9 customers in 21 states.