DIRECTV and U-verse customers won

DIRECTV and U-verse customers won


Tennessee begins its college football season Sept. 2, but hometown fans could have trouble tuning in as the Vols take on Virginia in front of a sold-out Nashville crowd.

That’s because the Knoxville ABC station WATE is owned by Nexstar Media Group, which is in a weekslong contract dispute with DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse. WATE has been locked out for those customers.

The good news is, there are other ways for DIRECTV customers to watch Saturday afternoon’s game at Nissan Stadium. Let’s make sure you have a plan before tuning in for the noon kickoff to avoid disappointment.

Watch Tennessee football the classic way with an antenna

DIRECTV spokesperson Thomas Tyrer told Knox News that customers with an antenna can still access the game via the local affiliate’s digital broadcast signal. In Knoxville, that’s WATE on Channel 6.

Test ABC online stream before kickoff time

Knox News logged in to using DIRECTV credentials, which allowed us to stream ABC in multiple markets. This should work on game day, but make sure you test it out.

Not a DIRECTV or U-verse customer? No problem

If you regularly watch WATE in any other way except through DIRECTV, the game should stream as normal.

Good news for Tennessee fans moving forward

Because the Vols are a Southeastern Conference team, most of the remaining games should be on CBS, ESPN and the SEC Network, Tyrer said.

What is the source of the DIRECTV-Nexstar dispute?

Nexstar says it has made a “fair value” proposal to keep the channel running after its most recent contract expired. DIRECTV, however, places the blame on Nexstar for demanding DIRECTV “to pay more than double the previous fees for the same content.”

DIRECTV also claims Nexstar uses “sidecar” companies “to skirt FCC station ownership caps and other federal laws.” While the FCC does not put a cap on the number of stations a company owns, it does require each company reaches no more than 39% of U.S. homes.

The company also owns the ABC station in Richmond, the capital of Virginia, but the college town of Charlottesville is in the clear.

Other ways to follow Tennessee football vs. Virginia

As one Knox News reporter suggested, just go visit Grandma. She definitely has an antenna.

You also can follow along with live updates at on game day.

Plus, a variety of bars and restaurants will be playing the game around town. The weather is looking nice, so maybe a Knoxville patio could do the trick.

A quick search through Facebook events shows watch parties are happening at Barrelhouse by Gypsy Circus, Fountain City Social and Last Days of Autumn Brewing.

But let’s be real: Any public place in Knoxville with a TV will find a way to stream this game.

Ryan Wilusz is a downtown growth and development reporter. Phone 865-317-5138. Email Instagram @knoxscruff. 

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