After failing to meet an agreement deal on the availability of CBS programming, Time Warner Cable temporarily shuttered the network’s broadcasts in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. The blackout also dropped Showtime, The Movie Channel (TMC), Flix, and Smithsonian – with each channel disappearing around 12 a.m. ET.
“As of midnight ET, Time Warner Cable customers in New York City, Dallas and Los Angeles will no longer receive their local CBS broadcast stations,” Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Maureen Huff said in a statement. “We offered to pay reasonable increases, but CBS’ demands are out of line and unfair – and they want Time Warner Cable to pay more than others pay for the same programming.”
It’s always hard to decipher which side of the team to believe – both companies want to monetize as best they can in the era of online TV services like Aereo, and both are blaming one another for not doing enough to please the masses. It’s a bit of a he said-she said: If you are a TWC subscriber and watched TV in the past few days, you might have noticed a few gloom notices about how CBS was being greedy about the rates it wants to continue service. Conversely, CBS claims Time Warner Cable isn’t agreeing to terms competitors accepted. By going dark, TWC has affected an estimated 3.5 million homes – roughly 29 percent of the company’s consumer.
Perhaps realizing the childishness of the situation, not long after the blackout occurred, Twitter reports cited that CBS was back in most of the cities Time Warner claimed would experience the drop. “At the request of CBS, we have halted going dark on their channels. I’ll update you when I have more information I can share,” TWC told The Wrap. Negotiations have been extended until August 2 at 5 p.m. ET.
Of course, this isn’t the first network versus cable service drama that has occurred in recent years. Just last summer, AMC played up its own fight with Dish Network by creating a zombie-filled PR stunt just to get people buzzing. Most of the time, companies are able to reach an agreement in the last minute – this time, TWC subscribers lost the channel for about 30 minutes. Which, if we’re honest, probably wasn’t even that big a deal since most of the east coast would be fast asleep. The ones that are awake are left with repeat episodes of Mike & Molly and How I Met Your Mother.
Is the ridiculousness of the whole situation even more of an excuse for customers to shift toward Internet services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video? Let’s face it: Even CBS’s suggestion to the temporarily blackout was for customers to access programming via the network’s website. Cable companies are just starting to dig their own grave.