Written by Stephen Fielder
Shortly after 4 p.m. on August 2, 3.5 million Time Warner customers in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas lost access to all CBS-owned stations (some subscribers in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Denver and Pittsburgh were also affected). 11.7 million Time Warner cable subscribers lost Showtime, TMC, FLIX, and Smithsonian. Here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, that means no KTVT – Channel 11 (No “NCIS”…No “Late Show with David Letterman”…No “Big Bang Theory”) and no KTXA – Channel 21 (No Friday night Ranger game broadcasts).
A big, “pre-cable” network like CBS has never been dropped by a pay TV provider like Time Warner before. How did this happen?
In the contract that just expired, CBS was getting between 75 cents and $1 for each Time Warner cable subscriber. Now, they are asking for up to $2 per subscriber, and Time Warner decided that they couldn’t pay that. They see those retransmission fees steadily rising and their subscriber numbers falling. Just last quarter, Time Warner lost 191,000 subscribers. Everyone who has cable knows that the monthly rates keep going up, and the channels offered keep getting pared down. The rise of retransmission fees is one reason that the cable bills keep going up. Time Warner knows that if they give CBS that $2 per subscriber, what would stop ABC and Fox from asking for the same increase? That’s the problem. They probably will. (NBC probably won’t because it is owned by Comcast which is also its largest distributor.)