Time Warner Cable Lost Subscribers During CBS Blackout

COO Rob Marcus said cable operator had 'no choice' but to fight CBS on retrans fees

Time Warner Cable dropped an unspecified number of customers as a direct result of the 32-day blackout of CBS stations in major markets and the loss of Showtime nationwide, but chief operating officer Rob Marcus said the MSO had no choice in the situation as it tried to get a better deal from the Eye.

The blackout “definitely had a subscriber impact,” Marcus said, speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment conference Wednesday in Beverly Hills. “It suppressed connects on the front end and increased disconnects of existing customers.”

But given long-term implications of rising retransmission-consent fees, TW Cable had “no choice” but to hold the line in the CBS fight, Marcus sad. More than 3 million cable customers lost access to CBS-owned stations in New York, L.A., Dallas and other markets, and TW Cable dropped Showtime and three other cable nets across the U.S.

SEE ALSO: CBS, Time Warner Cable Reach Deal to End Blackout

“While there was a fair amount of pain that we needed to endure, at the end of the day we felt like in order to achieve our long-term objectives, that was the only path,” he said.

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, also speaking at the conference Wednesday, said the TW Cable blackout did not inflict any financial damage on the Eye. “(T)here was no harm done financially to the CBS Corporation” from the standoff, he said.

TW Cable incurred marketing expenses, costs for distributing free antennas and costs for offering replacement programming during the CBS blackout, Marcus said. But, he added, “at the end of the day, I think it’s fair to say we ended up in a much better place than we started.”

As of June 30, Time Warner Cable had 11.72 million video subscribers, losing a net 191,000 in the second quarter.

Marcus is set to become CEO of Time Warner Cable in January 2014, following the retirement of chairman and CEO Glenn Britt. At the conference Wednesday, he said the retransmission-consent dispute with CBS showed the need for a “rewrite” of the 1992 Cable Act.

SEE ALSO: Time Warner Cable Subscribers Sue Over CBS, Showtime Blackout

This week, spurred by the CBS-TW Cable blackout, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introduced a bill aimed at eliminating such outages. The Video CHOICE (Consumers Have Options in Choosing Entertainment) Act would grant the FCC explicit authority to grant interim carriage of a broadcast station during a retrans standoff; allow customers to choose to not subscribe to broadcast TV; prohibit bundling of cable programming in retrans negotiations; and call on the FCC to look at whether blocking online video during a dispute constitutes failure to negotiate in “good faith.”

More Biz

  • Bert Salke and Jennifer Salke

    Feds Looked Into Amazon Studios Chief Jennifer Salke in College Admissions Scandal

    Federal investigators looked into Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke and her husband, Fox 21 Television Studios president Bert Salke, as they conducted a sprawling probe of cheating in elite college admissions, a source close to the case told Variety. It does not appear, however, that prosecutors will charge the Salkes in the case. The Salkes [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Big Blackout Looms as CBS, AT&T Go Down to Wire on Renewal Talks

    A blackout affecting CBS stations in major markets throughout the country looms as CBS and AT&T executives go down to the wire on negotiations for a retransmission consent deal covering 28 O&O stations. The sides have sparred publicly during the past few days as 11 p.m. PT Friday expiration of the previous contract approached. AT&T [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    ICM Responds to WGA Packaging Lawsuit: Claims are 'Baseless' and 'Absurd'

    ICM Partners has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against four major talent agencies by the Writers Guild of America as part of the larger war between agencies and the guild over packaging fees on TV series and movies. The guild sued ICM, CAA, WME and UTA in California state court in April, [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content