Sunday, August 4, 2013

CBS Off The Air On Time Warner Cable

Once again a network is negotiating with a cable operator and once again they have been taken off the air.  Regardless of which side of the fight you choose, Time Warner Cable subscribers in multiple CBS DMAs are no longer getting their TV shows.  "CBS cable properties Showtime, TMC, Flix and the Smithsonian Channel also went dark across Time Warner Cable’s 12-million subscriber footprint. The cable networks are also off the systems owned by Bright House Networks, which participates in Time Warner Cable's programming deals."  So what is household to do?

Certainly it is the summer and folks may be taking vacations or at least spending more time outdoors then in front of the TV; still, it is an inconvenience to those that pay their cable bills and expect to see their shows appear.  I suspect that a vast majority of Time Warner Cable households will do nothing; they will not switch to Aereo, they will not call or write TWC, they will not switch to FIOS or U-Verse or DirecTv or Dish Network.  They will suffer silently and wait patiently for the two sides to finally agree and for the signal to turn back on.  TWC hopes for this too.  CBS hopes that enough of the minority does raise their voices and switch to another service although they should be careful what they wish for.  If customer decide to take Aereo or buy a digital satellite, CBS will not see any additional license fees or will they get any strong set top research data to support their ad revenue model.  In fact, this drop will certainly hurt them even though it is the summer.  A projected drop could potentially go into September and the new Fall TV Season although I highly expect that an agreement will be hammered out within a couple weeks. 

Could a drop go longer, you bet.  TWC knows that any increase in fees will result in a higher subscriber fee and consumers are already mad.  Their wish is to drop underperforming networks and reduce these license costs.  TWC has already dropped Ovation Network and certainly has more in their sights.  How far apart CBS and TWC are in finding common ground remains to be seen.  Certainly the dropping of the networks were delayed past the actual expiration date but it appears that they got no closer an so a service drop was initiated.  For now, CBS seems to be inundating the media with ads pushing consumers to react.  As I am not a TWC subscriber, I have not seen any ads in newspaper or other media presenting their side.  Perhaps their strategy that silence is golden may be the best approach.  Because once these two sides do reach agreement, all will be forgiven (until the next renegotiation).

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