Saturday night, there’s a pretty decent chance that thousands of Ohio State football fans in Columbus, Dayton, and across the nation will turn on their television sets, and then immediately hurl the remote control into the nearest hard surface.
No, Joe Bauserman didn’t suddenly get another year of eligibility and win the QB1 spot for a 2011 revenge game. It’s much dumber than that.
Two corporate monoliths are having a stupid-fight and it’s starting to look like tens of thousands of innocent Ohio State fans are going to get caught in the middle.
Here’s the short version: if you live in Columbus or Dayton or a number of other cities across the country (full list below), you get your ABC broadcasts from stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.
Right now, Sinclair is in staredown with AT&T over carriage fees. That’s just the amount of money that AT&T pays Sinclair to include its channels in its cable or satellite packages.
They were supposed to reach an agreement on a new deal back in August, but agreed to a short-term extension until the end of September. That extension expires on Friday, September 27.
Once it expires, AT&T will pull all of the Sinclair stations off all of its platforms. If you get your TV through DIRECTV, AT&T TV, AT&T TV NOW, or U-verse TV, you will lose all of your Sinclair stations as soon as that happens.
If you live in Cleveland or Cincinnati or Toledo, or any market where the ABC station is owned by someone other than Sinclair, this won’t impact you.
But if you live in Columbus or Dayton and get your television through any of the providers listed above, you may not be able to watch the game.
Even if you’re a DIRECTV or U-Verse subscriber in Columbus or Dayton, there are several ways to get around the issue.
One is to get yourself an updated version of the ol’ rabbit ears antennas that you see in the photo at the top of the page. If you live close enough to the broadcast tower (anything within 15-20 miles is usually almost a guarantee), you can just get it over the air for free. You just need to go out and get yourself an HD antenna.
Those are available for $20-30 at basically any big-box retailer from Walmart to Target to Best Buy.
Your other option, if your internet is fast enough, is to just subscribe to a new streaming provider like YouTube TV. Right now, they’re offering a free trial, so you could theoretically subscribe, then cancel it after the game and not have to pay a penny for it.
You will need either a Smart TV or a device like Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, etc. to get it to work on your TV.
It’s still entirely possible that either Sinclair or AT&T blinks between now and Saturday evening. But if they don’t, you now have time to get ahead of the issue and make sure you don’t miss a minute of the Buckeyes.
And again, this will only affect you if you get your TV through DIRECTV, AT&T TV, AT&T TV NOW, or U-verse TV, *AND* live in one of the TV markets listed below.
Here is a full list of markets where Sinclair Broadcasting owns the ABC affiliate:
- Birmingham, AL
- Mobile, AL/Pensacola, FL
- Little Rock, AR
- Chico, CA/Redding, CA
- Eureka, CA
- Washington, DC
- Champaign-Urbana, IL
- Traverse City, MI/Sault Ste. Marie, MI
- Kirksville, MO
- St. Louis, MO
- Kearney-Hastings, NE
- North Platte, NE
- Rochester, NY
- Asheville, NC
- Greenville, SC/Spartanburg, SC
- Greenville-Morehead City, NC
- Winston-Salem, NC/High Point, NC
- Columbus, OH
- Dayton, OH
- Tulsa, OK
- Portland, OR
- Johnstown-Altoona, PA
- Florence-Myrtle Beach, SC
- Chattanooga, TN
- Abilene, TX
- Amarillo, TX
- San Angelo, TX
- Lynchburg-Roanoke, VA
- Seattle-Tacoma, WA
[Header photo source, used under Creative Commons license]