Comcast Inks Last-Minute Fox News Deal

Without it, millions of customers would have experienced a Bill O'Reilly blackout.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Comcast customers who are Fox News loyalists won’t have to worry about missing out on episodes of The O’Reilly Factor or The Kelly File: The cable giant recently reached a last-minute agreement with 21st Century Fox to continue carrying the network, avoiding a blackout of the channel for millions of viewers.

The deal, reached right before the New Year, also laid out terms for a new distribution agreement for Fox’s YES regional sports network, which Comcast stopped carrying in late 2015 because of a contract dispute, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the deal.

The former Fox News deal was set to expire at midnight on December 31st; the new deal will keep Fox News around for about four years. The arrangement bodes well for Comcast — Fox News just came off of its strongest year ever in terms of ratings, closing 2016 as the most-watched cable network in prime time, according to the WSJ.

Variety reports that interest in the channel was fueled by the 2016 presidential election. A deadlock with Comcast — one of the nation’s leading pay-TV distributors, with about 22 million subscribers — would have meant a decline in ratings and lower subscription revenue for Fox News. The deal with Comcast raises the monthly carriage fee for the channel to more than $1.50 per subscriber, says the WSJ.

The cable giant’s effort to bring the YES Network back is also good news for about 1 million Comcast subscribers. Comcast distributes the YES Network, home of the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets, primarily to New Jersey customers. But the network will likely not return to customers until after the baseball season starts in the spring.

Follow @fabiolacineas on Twitter.