TV Blackouts and Retrans Fees Reach Record Levels Despite Declining TV Viewership

Washington, D.C. – TV blackouts and retransmission consent fees have reached record levels in 2019 despite declining TV viewership.   ATVA recently launched an ad campaign urging Congress to act.  You can see all the ads being used at

  • In the past three weeks, broadcasters have blacked out millions of pay-TV customers, bringing the 2019 blackout total to 230, breaking the previous record of 213 set in 2017.   
  • Since 2006, retrans fees have gone from about $200 million, to $10.1 billion in 2018, an increase of 4,950 percent. 
  • In the past 10 years, primetime viewership of the big four broadcast networks has declined by 52 percent, according to Nielsen.      

 “TV blackouts and broadcaster fee hikes hit a record this year even as the number of television viewers continues to decline,” said Trent Duffy, ATVA spokesman.  “Consumers have lost billions of dollars and have been used as pawns.  It is time to bring our nation’s ancient video laws in line with the reality of today.”

TV Blackout Crisis: Over 1,000 Blackouts since 2010 as Broadcasters Rake in Billions from Viewers

Since 2010, millions of Americans have seen dark screens instead of watching their favorite channels due to more than 1,000 broadcaster-initiated blackouts.  Blackouts have affected consumers in nearly every congressional district and media market across the U.S.

  • 230 blackouts in 2019
  • 165 blackouts in 2018
  • 213 blackouts in 2017
  • 104 blackouts in 2016
  • 193 blackouts in 2015
  • 94 blackouts in 2014
  • 119 blackouts in 2013
  • 90 blackouts in 2012
  • 42 blackouts in 2011
  • 8 blackouts in 2010

The American Television Alliance (ATVA) brings together an unprecedented coalition of consumer groups, cable, satellite, telephone companies, and independent programmers to raise awareness about the risk TV viewers face as broadcasters increasingly threaten service disruptions that would deny viewers access to the programs they and their families enjoy. For more information about ATVA, visit our website. Follow us on Twitter @ATVAlliance.

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