There's been a bit of a brouhaha over the past week or so after a number of PlayStation Vue subscribers learned that they'd no longer have access to streams of their local channels. That is, they'd no longer have access to streams of their local Sinclair-owned channels.
Sinclair, of course, has been in the news of late because everything is political these days, and Sinclair is decidedly right-leaning and an unabashed defender of anything that comes out of the current White House administration. And it very clearly believes that whatever the difference it had with the folks at Sony, it was Sony's fault.
Sony hasn't said much on all this. Sinclair, however, has:
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI), (the "Company," "Sinclair") regretfully announced that, as a result of Sony failing to comply with certain contractual provisions, all of Sinclair's ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliated stations have been removed from Sony's PlayStation Vue platform. The impasse affects all of Sony's Playstation Vue subscribers who are located in Sinclair markets, although because of the very small subscriber base that PlayStation Vue has this event will have no material impact on Sinclair.
While Sony has advised its subscribers that it will replace our stations with certain on demand content, that content represents just a fraction of the programming Sinclair's stations provide and does not include any of our award-winning news or popular syndicated programming. Even the network programming that Sony now has will not be available until after it has aired on our stations and will not include live sports programming. Sony promotes PlayStation Vue as a "live streaming TV service with sports, news and your favorite must-watch shows," which is no longer the case with respect to Sinclair's stations.
"We regret Sony was not willing to meet certain requirements for carrying our stations," stated Barry Faber, Sinclair's EVP Network Relations & Distribution. "We remind Sony subscribers that there are other video distributor options available to receive our broadcast stations' programming, including Sony's direct competitor YouTube TV, which continues to carry stations that Sony has dropped. Fortunately, subscribers to PlayStation Vue can terminate their subscriptions with ease and without termination fees."
Definitely some bad blood between the two. Fault, however, doesn't matter here. If you lost your live local channels, you lost your live local channels.
So, what can you do about it?
Use a different streaming service
As Sinclair (in kind of a dickish way) points out, there are other streaming providers that have access to Sinclair's live broadcast feed. Hulu, DirecTV Now and YouTube TV all have options — though as always they vary by location, so you'll need to check with each to see if they have the live stream from the channels where you live.
So if you've been looking for an excuse to switch, this might be it. And it's a good time to remember that every streaming provider has a free trial period, and none has a penalty for canceling a contract.
Get an antenna
While over-the-antennas aren't an option for everyone, that doesn't mean they're not a good option. (And they'll keep you from avoiding this sort of headache with any streaming provider.)
If you've yet to try one, the gist is that you rig up an antenna — either inside your home, or better is outside your home somehow — and run it into a TV tuner. Those can be found in the television itself. Or even cooler is to get something like HDHomerun or Tablo, which can take that over-the-air signal and spit it out over your local network, to multiple devices at one time.
The bottom line
Look, none of this is ideal. When companies fight like this, the real losers are the customers, and that's never a good thing. You don't have much of a choice in who owns the local broadcast stations where you live. (Though you do have a voice in saying whether Sinclair should own even more of them.)
So the simple fact is you can either use a different streaming provider that includes Sinclair channels, or you can rig up an antenna. Personally I prefer that latter option, but I get that it's just not something everyone can do depending on living circumstances.
Or, I guess, you could move. But that's a bit much.
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