The brouhaha between Charter Communications and Tribune Media rolls on. And barring a settlement soon — which isn’t expected — two more NFL playoff games are not expected to be carried this weekend by the largest provider of subscription television programming in the St. Louis market.
That would come after ratings for a game last Saturday evidently took a major hit because of the dispute.
Tribune owns KTVI (Channel 2) and KPLR (Channel 11) in St. Louis, among other stations locally and nationally, and has been withholding them from Charter-owned Spectrum cable since Jan. 3 as part of a squabble over how much Tribune wants to be paid for the channels. Both sides are blaming the other for the situation.
KTVI is the local Fox network affiliate, and as such carried the Seattle-Dallas first-round playoff game last Saturday night. This weekend it has two high-profile matchups, Dallas-Los Angeles Rams (7:15 p.m. Saturday) and Philadelphia-New Orleans (3:40 p.m. Sunday). Unless there is significant movement, Spectrum isn’t expected to carry them.
“We’re not real optimistic about getting our channels back on by this weekend,” Tribune senior vice president of corporate relations Gary Weitman told the Milwaukee Journal.
The Seattle-Dallas contest last Saturday was seen in 9.7 percent of homes in the St. Louis area with a TV. That’s according to Nielsen, which measures viewership. Last year, the Saturday night NFL first-round postseason game (Atlanta-Los Angeles Rams) drew a 13.3 rating in St. Louis.
A source said about 40 percent of those in the market who buy cable, satellite or similar programming packages get their service through Spectrum. So the ratings impact can be significant.
Interestingly, a source said that the number of people receiving the NFL telecast last Saturday through Fox Sports’ digital devices (Foxsportsgo.com as well as the Fox Sports and Fox Sports Go apps) was dramatically higher than usual for a game.
Normally about 4,000-5,000 customers would be expected to access it, the source said, and this time it was 25,000-30,000. Because a subscription to a service that carries Fox Sports is supposed to be needed to connect to the digital feed, and Spectrum has been locked out, this evidently means there were a lot of people borrowing passwords from friends or relatives who have another service.
There are other alternatives to getting the Fox games, including through apps on mobile phones and tablets from the NFL and Yahoo Sports.
Then there is the simple 1950s, ’60s method, via an antenna. The signals for KTVI and KPLR still are available over the free airwaves.