CBS now has a blacker eye among some viewers, as the contract dispute with Time Warner Cable — which has left its stations dark for more than 3 million cable subscribers — stretches into its third week.
In the week following the Aug. 2 blackout of CBS stations in New York, L.A. and Dallas, the Eye dropped to a neutral consumer-perception score while Time Warner Cable’s sank to minus-7, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex research service. But CBS as of Monday now has a relative score of minus-5 on the survey — its lowest point since August 2011. Time Warner Cable, at minus-10, is at its lowest point since January 2011.
In a statement, CBS said, “We know viewers are frustrated; we are too. Our goal continues to be to reconnect our audience with their favorite CBS news, sports and entertainment programming as soon as possible. Our decline in perception is clearly tied to this difficult issue and should be temporary; we believe (Time Warner Cable’s) is chronic.”
The companies failed to reach a deal after weeks of talks and extended deadlines. The blackout of CBS stations on Time Warner Cable was the first for the Eye in nearly a decade; the cable company also pulled Showtime and three other CBS-owned cable networks from lineups nationwide. In retaliation, CBS.com began blocking all Time Warner Cable broadband customers from accessing full-length episodes.
Industry analysts speculate that CBS and Time Warner Cable will reach a deal before the start of the NFL regular season, which kicks off for the Eye on Sept. 8.
While CBS and Time Warner Cable’s scores have dropped on the YouGov survey, DirecTV’s has climbed from 7 to 9 since late July and Verizon FiOS has increased from 4 to 5. Showtime, meanwhile, has declined from 7 to 4 since the end of July.
YouGov’s BrandIndex score is a weighted metric (ranging from minus-100 to 100) indicating relative positive or negative perception. Survey respondents are asked, “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”
On “The Late Show” on CBS Monday, David Letterman joshed about the prolonged blackout at the top of his opening monologue, calling the cable company “evil goons.”
“If you don’t put CBS back on your cable TV, night after night after night I will say nasty, awful things about you — that no one will see,” Letterman quipped, adding, “Time Warner (Cable) is now more hated in New York City than A-Rod.” Watch the clip: