Why You Might Not Be Able To Watch Ohio State – Nebraska

Ohio State football Sinclair AT&T Dispute

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]

12 Responses

  1. The article should also note that you can watch the game in the ESPN app/website if you ESPN3 access either through your ISP or through your cable/satellite provider. All the ABC games air in the ESPN app via ESPN3.

  2. Its important to note that re-broadcasters (ATT, Dish, Spectrum, etc) is not necessarily responsible for content creators (ABC, FOX, etc) or an aggregator (Nexstar, Sinclair) for the increased costs/blackout.
    Sinclair bought a bunch of local content creators, and wants re-broadcasters to pay more per subscriber for the rebroadcasting costs. ATT doesn’t want to pay more for the same service, especially if the total viewership has decreased (which almost every channel has lost overall viewership over the last years). If ATT caters in, and allows Sinclair to get the bump up in charges, this means that us, the consumers, will end up paying more when costs increase at the end of the year. I don’t want to pay more for the same channels. If it blacks out, its not ATT’s fault, its Sinclair for asking for more money for the same services.

    1. Yep. Sinclair is an odious organization. They have been buying up local stations around the country and need to be cut down in size. They are very much a local stations must do what we say, not what is good for the localities where the stations are.

      They also now own several of the former Fox Sports regional channels (Reds, Indians, Blue Jackets) and their CEO said they are going to be running a lot more political ads on the regional sports networks they own.

      Sinclair’s ownership is why we refuse to watch local channel 6 or 28 news.

  3. Quick, if you are in Columbus or Dayton go get an HD antenna before the game. Relatively cheap and easy to hook up…and no way for the stupid people to get between you and the beloved Buckeyes

  4. It’s not just ABC, it’s also Fox, nor is that a complete list. It affects the entire Ohio Valley from Wheeling, WVa. to all points between, St. Clairesville up to at least East Liverpool.

    AT&T is looking to use blunt force trauma to a few million Sinclair viewers through extortion. That’s what happens when “statist” conglomerates meet “statist” conglomerates. AT&T wants to destroy any and all competition, or those who have interests in multiple markets and want full and unbridled “ruler-ship” of what the viewers can and cannot see through the streaming market. Their claim of offering a wider variety and superior streaming via the airwaves OR the cable markets is total BS. If they can get Sinclair to cave, they’ll crush all the smaller competition like bugs. Sports attacks aren’t their prime objective. It’s the media they want control over to promote their Marxist agenda.

    1. The ABC station in Wheeling is owned by Nexstar, not Sinclair, and is thus not impacted by this.

      Yes, there are other stations and affiliated affected by this, but they are not airing the OSU/Nebraska game, so they’re really not relevant to the more pressing issue for OSU fans this weekend, which is the subject of the article.

      1. So that little warning on the TV screen all week long was just some programmer pretending……and his boss never caught on to it?

        1. WTRF-DT3 is listed as the only ABC affiliate in that market. The Nexstar logo is at the bottom of

          The only station in that area listed on Sinclair’s website is WTOV, which is an NBC affiliate, not ABC. You can find that here:

        2. I apologize. My wife just informed me that Nexstar settled it’s dispute with AT&T was settled a month ago, and now Sinclair is in AT&T’s sights.

    2. “Marxist agenda”? Only if you’re referring Groucho and not Karl.

  5. If the game is on ABC (and not ESPN), folks, get an antenna.

    Cant beat “on air” broadcast for HD.

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