Because of a contract dispute between NBC12 and Verizon Fios, the channel is no longer available to customers of the service in the Richmond area.
In an e-mail on Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson for Gray Television, NBC12's parent company, was not optimistic the impasse would be resolved by 8 p.m., in time for one of the biggest football games of the season.
The Washington Football Team is scheduled to take on the Philadelphia Eagles, with Washington needing a victory to advance to the playoffs.
Verizon's agreement to carry NBC12 expired on Jan. 1, and the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement on compensation.
In an online statement, NBC12 general manager Kym Grinnage said the network offered an extension of the existing agreement to ensure the game would be carried, but Verizon declined.
The estimated 100,000 households impacted by the contract fight have a handful of options to watch Sunday night's game:
- NBC programming can be viewed via a traditional over-the-air antenna
- The game will be live streamed at the NBC Sports website, and via the NBC Sports app
- The NFL will stream the game at no charge on its NFL app for mobile phones.
- Fios customers can watch the game in Spanish on the NBC Universo station, which is channel 275, or channel 775 for a high-definition feed.
This isn’t the first time local sports fans have been caught in the middle of a contract dispute.
Comcast customers still don’t have access to ESPN’s ACC Network, which televised a majority of Virginia and Virginia Tech football games this year. No resolution is expected in that dispute until this summer, when the ESPN-Comcast contract comes up for renewal.
In a statement, Verizon said it would work to keep costs down for consumers.
The company wrote on its website: “We negotiate hundreds of these agreements each year and, while we are able to reach mutually agreeable terms with the majority of our programming partners prior to any service disruptions, sometimes broadcasters and cable networks demand unacceptable price increases.
“Since such excessive increases would translate into significant increases in the rates you, our customers, pay each month, we will stand for you against unreasonable rate increases for TV programming.”
In an e-mail, Gray Television senior VP Robert Folliard wrote: “Over the last ten years, we have negotiated more than 1,000 of these carriage agreements, and I can count on one hand — with some fingers to spare — the number of times our company has failed to reach an agreement with a cable or satellite operator.”
Folliard noted that Fios has pulled local stations in other markets in past years as well, seeking more favorable contract terms.