Paramount on the cusp of new CBS affiliate deal for vMVPDs – report

Paramount has reportedly proposed a new carriage deal that could see CBS affiliate programming return to FuboTV as well as keep CBS affiliate stations on Paramount+, Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV.

According to NextTV, CBS affiliates were informed on Friday of the new agreement, which the outlet reported is endorsed by the CBS affiliate board and is said to last three years as well as include sports fees and advertising inventory units. CBS has over 200 affiliate stations, owned by broadcasters such as Nexstar Media Group, Gray Television, Sinclair Broadcast Group and E.W. Scripps.

The potential carriage agreement comes roughly one month after local CBS channels were pulled from FuboTV. The CBS affiliate board had advised station owners not to opt-in to an earlier vMPVD deal offered by Paramount, a recommendation many followed - with certain affiliate stations leaving FuboTV as a result. 

Concerning this latest development, a Fubo representative told Fierce the company doesn’t have any updates to share at the present time. The virtual MVPD currently airs CBS national feeds, provided by Paramount, to the affected markets.

For Nexstar’s part, the broadcaster announced Monday it has extended carriage of all 40 of its CBS-affiliated stations on YouTube TV. The multi-year agreement also encompasses 29 CW-affiliated TV stations, over two dozen MyNetworkTV stations and four independent stations.

Nexstar has not provided any update on whether its CBS stations will return to Fubo. However, company CEO Perry Sook recently called for more direct involvement in vMVPD negotiations, as opposed to letting networks like Paramount negotiate on behalf of CBS affiliates.

Speaking at a Morgan Stanley investor conference last week, Nexstar Chief Operating Officer Tom Carter noted vMVPDs contribute “less than 10%” to the company’s distribution revenue and Fubo is “the smallest vMVPD we deal with.”

Carter went on to say channel blackouts are par the course for carriage negotiations, referencing Nexstar’s retransmission dispute with Verizon last fall.

“It’s part of the negotiation tactics, it’s something nobody wants to pull out…because it disrupts the consumer and that ultimately is bad for everybody,” he said. “But it’s a tactic that is used from time to time when circumstances require it.”

As for Fubo, CEO David Gandler has stated the company is in a bit of a holding pattern to see how the CBS affiliate negotiations play out.

“We have negotiated pricing with CBS and it’s their job to secure the deals with the local broadcasters,” Gandler said on Fubo’s Q4 earnings call. At the same time, he added “under no circumstances” does Fubo require CBS local programming, “given the retention levels that we have seen.”