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 abc.com/watch-live 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? Try Fubo free trial or another streaming service
If you regularly watch WATE in any other way except through DIRECTV, the game should stream as normal. If you need a streaming service, Fubo TV offers a free trial and ESPN+ and Sling TV also have packages to carry the game.
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 knoxnews.com 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.
But let’s be real: Any public place in Knoxville with a TV will find a way to stream this game.
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