Altice USA and Fox Reach Carriage Deal Agreement For Optimum, Averting Sports And Content Blackout

Let the games continue. Altice USA and Fox have reached a new carriage agreement just before a Friday midnight deadline that would have blacked out Optimum programming for New York area viewers.

That would have been disastrous for sports fans, who look forward to Fox’s NFL, college football, and Major League Baseball playoffs coverage in one of the busiest months of the year.

Altice is a cable and broadband provider, the US division of a French company. Its consumer-facing brand is Optimum. While Altice/Optimum is not a heavyweight in terms of distribution (No. 9 by subscribers), they are significant in the NY suburbs.

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The expiring contract covered local Fox stations including WNYW-TV and WWOR-TV in New York, as well as cable channels FS1, FS2, Fox News Channel, Fox Business News, and Big Ten Network. ■

“Optimum and Fox are pleased to announce that a mutually agreed upon deal has been reached that will allow continued carriage of Fox programming for Optimum TV customers,” the companies said in a statement.

Financial terms and other details were not disclosed.

Fox had some leverage in carriage negotiations, owing to its popular sports programming, and the pay-TV bundle has more impact on its bottom line than it does with larger, more diversified rival media companies. As the pay-TV bundle continues to shrink, with millions of consumers cutting the cord each year, many companies have shifted their emphasis to direct-to-consumer subscription streaming. Fox, however, has stayed on the sidelines with SVOD, instead focusing on the free, ad-supported outlet Tubi.

Altice had complained that Fox was demanding “unprecedented and excessive fee increases” and said it was seeking a fair deal.

Executives at Fox have signaled to Wall Street the significant financial opportunity they expect via a series of distribution renewals over the next year or so. About two-thirds of the company’s distribution footprint will get updated pacts, and resulting carriage revenue will push fiscal 2023 results to new records, the company has projected.

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