Comcast finally signs YES Network, as retrans and carriage battles rage amid New Year's deadlines

Comcast Center headquarters in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast

Highlighting an active week for carriage and retrans battles, Comcast announced a new licensing deal with 21st Century Fox that will not only keep Fox News on the MSO, but will also restore regional sports network YES more than a year after the exclusive TV home of the New York Yankees was taken down from the MSO’s program guide. 

The Comcast-Fox deal highlighted a busy week for the pay-TV industry on the program-licensing front, with more than half-a-dozen carriage and retrans battles either percolating or just settled:

> Charter Communications and Comcast-owned NBCUniversal agreed on a short-term extension, following a threat by a blackout threat from the programmer. Charter, NBCU said, “has been unyielding in its demand for terms superior to those agreed to by the rest of the industry, including larger distributors. Given this position, we feel the responsibility to inform viewers that Charter Spectrum may drop NBCUniversal’s networks at the end of the year.”

> Thirteen Cox Media stations in 10 markets have been restored on DirecTV after a weekend blackout. The stations went dark on the satellite TV system for a brief period of time on Jan. 1 during stalled retransmission talks. 

> Frontier Communications lost access to Sinclair Broadcasting stations on Jan. 1. The blackout includes cable network Tennis Channel. Neither side seems optimistic that a new licensing deal will be carved out soon. “There are no negotiations going on, and I have no expectations for any future negotiations,” Sinclair executive VP of distribution and network relations Barry Faber told Deadline Hollywood

> Altice USA reached a carriage renewal deal with AMC Networks to keep AMC, IFC, Sundance, WeTV, BBC America and BBC World News on Optimum and Suddenlink cable systems. 

> Cable One subscribers remain blacked out of Northwest Broadcasting network affiliates in Idaho, Mississippi and Cleveland. "For several weeks we have been in negotiations with Northwest Broadcasting over programming fees and we have made every effort to reach a fair deal,” said Cable One VP John Gosch told Broadcasting & Cable. “However, Northwest Broadcasting is demanding a rate increase of nearly 70% over their previous contract with Cable One — a rate higher than paid to any television broadcaster in any of Cable One’s other 40+ markets. Northwest Broadcasting also refused our request for an extension, so that we could keep these channels up and running for our customers while negotiations continued.”