So there is a nice fight card running on Showtime tomorrow night. Norammly, I’d be watching. But, you see, my cable TV provider is Time Warner Cable, and Time Warner is locked in a standoff with CBS, which owns Showtime. That standoff has meant that since Aug. 2 TWC customers in NY, where I live, and LA and Dallas haven’t been able to watch CBS or Showtime on their TV. Yes, Time Warner yanked those stations, in a show of force against CBS, which during negotations on the fees they wish to be paid by Time Warner, for the right to carry this CBS content, asked for the re-transmission fee to be upped.
I have seen a report that says that CBS, the top-rated network, wants the fee to double. “Time Warner Cable has insisted that the fee increases that CBS is asking for are unreasonable; CBS has argued it provides far more value than many cable networks that require much higher fees. Some reports have said CBS is asking for an increase of about 100 percent, to $2 a subscriber, from $1,” wrote Brian Stelter in the NY Times, on Aug. 2.
Time Warner, in defense, says that they can’t rightly do that, as it sets a horrid precedent for other outfits which will also expect large increases in re-transmission fees when contracts are up for renewal. This battle is being fought for a few reasons, not the least of which is media comapnies are seeking to bolster revenue streams which have been impacted in the loss of revenue from ad sales.
When TWC scrubbed CBS and Showtime I figured the impasse would be resolved quickly, that people would come to their senses, find common ground, and my precious boxing wouldn’t be impacted. That was optimistic. I read an ad put out by TWC in the NY Post today which opens by saying, “Ever since CBS pulled the plug on our customers.” In the Post the day before, an ad accused CBS of “witholding their networks.” This left me puzzled, as, to my understanding, TWC pulled the plug, TWC is doing the with-holding. Am I wrong here?
I was hoping to figure out some work around, like, maybe Showtime could make their boxing shows available to subscribers shut out by the TWC blackout on the Showtime website…but I asked around and that’s not feasible, or fair to other cable companies carrying Showtime. They pay a fee based, partially, on a scarcity of the product and that scarcity is reduced if made available to anyone with a computer and internet connection.
Worry not, TWC customers who’ve come to enjoy Showtime fare, including their boxing, and are looking forward to the forthcoming Mayweather fight. I was told by someone at Showtime that the show will go on regarding their Mayweather-Canelo PPV on Sept. 14. Time Warner wouldn’t and couldn’t black that out, not unless they wanted to take many millions of dollars out of their own pockets. In Demand is the PPV outfit which delivers the product to the cable companies and they, too, would have an issue if Time Warner blacked out the PPV, refused to offer it, and thus a couple hundred thousand fewer homes bought the PPV. In Demand’s profits are booked based off a percentage of PPVs purchased.
And when will I be able to watch boxing on Showtime again without driving to the house of a friend who has Cablevision, or a satellite deal? I’d guess a deal would be hashed out before Sept. 8, when the Patriots play the Bills, in a 1 PM game due to be shown on CBS. A lot of powerful people, including politicians with bully pulpits, are football and Tom Brady fans. Many of them, if the impasse kept dragging, would be exerting behind the scenes pressure to insure that common ground is found, and TWC and CBS make nice.