The day before five Southeastern Conference football games were scheduled to broadcast on the league's broadcast network, conference commissioner Greg Sankey sent out a public warning that AT&T customers may not be able to watch those games — an action that the multi-billion dollar company said was putting viewers into the middle of ongoing negotiations.
Sankey posted on Twitter Friday morning: "Attention @SEC fans! If you are a DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse or AT&T TVNow subscriber, you may not be able to view games on @SECNetwork (& other @ESPN and Disney networks) this weekend."
Attention @SEC fans! If you are a DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse or AT&T TVNow subscriber, you may not be able to view games on @SECNetwork (& other @ESPN and Disney networks) this weekend. Visit https://t.co/j0yzDYpouI for the latest info.— Greg Sankey (@GregSankey) September 13, 2019
The tweet included a link to a web page that explained that The Walt Disney Company, a multi-billion dollar corporation which owns networks such as the SEC network, was deadlocked in negotiations with AT&T over an agreement to carry its networks on AT&T's services.
"Unfortunately, so far AT&T has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us, despite the fact that the terms we are seeking are in line with recent marketplace deals we have reached with other distributors," the webpage said. "If a deal is not reached soon, DIRECTV and AT&T video subscribers could lose access to ABC, ESPN and more."
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The webpage included an AT&T phone number with a line that read "Let them know you want to keep the networks you are paying for!" and included a Q&A section with questions such as "Isn't it unfair that I lose access to a channel that I'm paying for just because two companies can't reach a deal?"
"We're disappointed to see The Walt Disney Co. put their viewers into the middle of negotiations," an AT&T spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "We are on the side of consumer choice and value and want to keep each of the local ABC stations and Disney's national sports and entertainment channels in our AT&T TV customers' lineups. We hope to avoid any interruption to the services some of our customers care about."
The LSU Tigers go for their 800th victory Saturday night against Northwestern State.
The SEC Network's slate of Saturday games is scheduled to start with Tennessee (0-2) vs. Chattanooga (1-1) at 11 a.m., and No. 4 LSU (2-0) vs. Northwestern State (0-2) is scheduled to broadcast on SEC Network at 6:30 p.m.
"Our contract with AT&T for the ABC, ESPN, Disney, and Freeform networks is due to expire soon, so we have a responsibility to make our viewers aware of the potential loss of our program," an ESPN spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "However, we remain fully committed to reaching a deal and are hopeful we can do so."
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The Advocate's LSU beat team predicts the outcome of the Tigers home game with Northwestern State on Saturday night.
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