August 5th, 2013 03:12 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: CBS, ESPN, FOX, SEC, Time Warner Cable
Having spent two decades in the television industry and also having experienced one very nasty battle over retransmission agreements up close, I freely admit to being “the negative guy” when it comes to the SEC Network and its fight to get carriage on America’s biggest cable and satellite providers. Whether broadcasting top-notch Southern football or the World Series of Baking, cable and satellite companies don’t like paying for start-up channels. They’ve got plenty of networks already and each time a new one comes along — demanding big dollars to carry it — the providers balk, then fight, then yield… and then pass the cost on to you, the subscriber.
We’ve been consistently banging this drum for months. We did so before the official announcement for the SEC Network was made: “Those carriage negotiations usually don’t go too smoothly; a cross between going across the aisle in Congress and trying to reason with Kim Jung Un.”
We did so after the wraps were taken off the channel: “You, the viewer, need to prepare for the carriage battles we’ve warned you about.”
Last month we pointed you in the direction of the last-minute fight going on between FOX’s new all-sports network, FS1, and DirecTV, Dish and Time Warner. That new channel was projected to reach 90 million cable households. As of last month three of the biggest cable and satellite providers in the country weren’t going to carry it.
Today, we’ve got yet another big battle for you to take note of. CBS and Time Warner Cable are duking it out over their retransmission agreement. CBS affiliates and CBS-owned cable networks have been yanked from Time Warner subscribers, meaning they can not be viewed in large parts of New York, Los Angeles and Dallas at the moment. Media analysts believe the fight could go on from 10 days to six weeks. And keep in mind that the NFL regular season is just a month from kickoff. CBS — along with FOX — carries more games than any other broadcaster.
The New York Times provides a quickie explanation here:
“Time Warner Cable has also acted at a time when similar showdowns are increasingly common across the country. The impasse in almost all the disputes centers on what are known as retransmission fees — compensation for putting broadcast stations on cable systems. In this case CBS, according to several analysts following the situation, has asked for an increase from about $1 per subscriber to about $2.”
So the NFL season and all other CBS-generated content hangs in the balance in three major metropolitan areas over a proposed $1-per-subscriber hike in price. While this one will eventually be worked out — they always are — anyone living under the illusion that the SEC will slide right onto every cable and satellite provider it desires is dreaming.
ESPN and the SEC have cut just one deal to date and that is with AT&T U-verse, a provider that’s been unceasingly touted as “the fastest-growing provider in the country.” Sounds good, but what does that mean? Well, AT&T U-verse has gone from 4.1 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2012 to 5.0 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2013. Nationally.
Trust us, the SEC Network’s fight to get carriage will be a frustrating slog. Your cable or satellite provider will not want to give millions of dollars to ESPN and the SEC for the right to air their programming. They will tell you that ESPN and the SEC are asking for too much money and that they are on your side, protecting your hard-earned dollars.
ESPN and the SEC, meanwhile, will tell you that your cable or satellite provider is a big ol’ meanie. You’ll be told that they won’t give you the SEC football games that you love. You’ll be told to call your local provider and demand the SEC Network. Eventually, overall viewer demand will indeed land the new channel on your system.
But prepare yourself now to miss a week or two of 2014 SEC football action as the battle comes to a head. And when the battle is done, you’ll be rewarded with — most likely — a $1 or $2 bump on your monthly television bill.
UPDATE – After three days with no CBS programming in New York, LA, and Dallas, Time Warner Cable has extended an olive branch to CBS. As we said, these things always work themselves out. But as was the case here, it usually gets worked out after the deadline.
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