If you live in the Manhattan area, and aren’t one of the pioneers who have already cut their cable cords, you may have seen the ad campaign. “Standing up to” Fox, Time Warner cable is asking its customers to support its effort to “get tough” with the media giant, which has threatened to yank its content from Time Warner if Time Warner doesn’t agree to a $1 per subscriber rate (an estimated 300% increase) by tonight at 11:59 PM (or whenever the agreement technically expires today).
And so it has gone – with Time Warner publicly waging a war against Fox whilst continuing to resist Fox’s demand. To date, there has been no resolution, but tonight is the night, ladies and gents. Today is the deadline – Time Warner can either agree to Fox’s terms, the two can agree to lesser but still amenable terms, or Time Warners subscribers (in certain selected markets, including New York) can kiss the upcoming season of American Idol goodbye!
Of course, Fox likely feels it is in a great position to make this demand now because, as the Gizmodo report linked above points out, it’s America’s #1 most watched network. Well, that and its retransmission agreement with Time Warner for New York (and certain other markets) is up as of the end of the day today. But any way you look at it, this is just bad news for many Americans.
It’s a fight in which you can really see both sides.
On the one hand, Fox looks around at cable networks like ESPN and MTV, who are getting well over $1 per subscriber from cable companies and thinks – hey, we’ve got more viewers, therefore our content is more valuable, yet we’re not even getting A dollar, let alone the several that ESPN gets ($4 per this Times report). And the cable companies are making plenty of cash off of retransmitting OUR content to boot!
On the other hand, the cable companies (like Time Warner) look around at the network television market and say – hey, over half of this country gets its television from cable, without us (and others, of course), you’d be reaching that much less of the population.
But regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, something will change.
Either Time Warner will yield to Fox’s demands, “setting a precedent” for the other major networks to follow, the two will find some middle ground between the current rate and $1, or Fox will yield to Time Warner, realizing that without the chunk of Time Warner viewers, it isn’t the top dog anymore (just so we’re clear – I don’t know that eliminating Time Warner customers from Fox’s viewership would have that significant an impact, but given that they’re talking about the New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Orlando and other markets, I have to imagine it will have a decent impact).
In either case, for Time Warner customers who like college football could be pretty sour when they go to turn on Friday’s Rose Bowl game, only to find out that they can’t see it.
If you’re a Time Warner customer, you can find out if you’re at risk of losing Fox’s channels (or FX, or the Speed Network, among others) by going to RollOverOrGetTough.com.
And either way, we wish you a very happy New Year from The Digital Breakfast!
Here’s to a great 2010!!