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Dish and WarnerMedia announced a new carriage deal Thursday, ending a bitter dispute that saw HBO and Cinemax pulled from Dish since November 2018.
The new agreement not only returns the HBO and Cinemax linear channels to Dish, but will see the satellite company sell HBO Max to its subscribers as well. As part of a launch offer, Dish will sell HBO Max’s ad-free plan for $12 per month, a $3 discount.
The dispute began shortly after AT&T — which owns Dish competitor DirecTV — closed its acquisition of WarnerMedia. That led Dish founder Charlie Ergen to accuse AT&T of using HBO as “a weapon” against Dish and to promote DirecTV.
HBO’s then chief Richard Plepler responded by telling reporters that “the notion that AT&T had anything to do with our inability to reach a reasonable deal with Dish is simply not true. It seems to be a silly but transparent attempt on Dish’s behalf to muddy the waters for reasons only they can explain.”
The carriage dispute made waves at the time, in part because of Dish’s argument that AT&T was leveraging its ownership of HBO to boost DirecTV. Of course, Dish has never been shy about playing hardball with programmers, and Spanish-language giant Univision saw its channels pulled from Dish around the same time as HBO. Dish would lose hundreds of thousands of subscribers in the quarters that followed.
Speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference in 2019, Ergen said “we are not afraid to take something down if we can’t make money from it,” citing the loss of HBO.
Coincidentally, HBO’s parent company AT&T and Dish last month signed a multi-billion dollar deal that covers mobile network services and 5G spectrum. It is not immediately clear whether that deal is tied to the HBO talks.
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