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

  • Alan Horn Bill Tanner

    Alan Horn to Keynote Variety Business Managers Elite Breakfast, Bill Tanner to Be Honored

    Bill Tanner will be recognized with Variety’s 2019 Business Managers Elite Award at the annual Business Managers Elite Breakfast presented by City National Bank, which takes place in Beverly Hills on Nov. 13. Co-chairman and chief creative officer of The Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn will be the keynote speaker in conversation with Variety editor-in-chief, [...]

  • Smoke haze covers the Sydney Harbour

    Australia's Seven West to Merge With Affiliate Prime Media

    Australia’s Seven West Media has agreed a deal to acquire regional broadcast group Prime Media. The move is a further step in the consolidation of Australia’s traditional media industry. The two companies announced on Friday that Seven will make the acquisition entirely through the issue of new shares to the owners of Prime. Both companies [...]

  • Ron Meyer

    Ron Meyer Files $10 Million Suit Over Forged Rothko

    NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer has filed a $10 million suit against two art dealers, claiming they sold him a forged Mark Rothko painting in 2001. Meyer accuses Susan Seidel and Jaime Frankfort of duping him into buying the work. According to the suit, he was told that it would be included in an official [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein Seeks to Call Expert on 'Recovered' Memories at Rape Trial

    Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys are seeking to call an expert on “recovered memories” at his trial on rape and sexual assault charges. The defense has filed a motion asking to call Deborah Davis, a psychologist and professor at the University of Nevada at Reno. Davis is a frequent defense witness. She co-authored an article in 2006 [...]

  • Tekashi 6ix9ine Docuseries Coming From Showtime

    Tekashi 6ix9ine Docuseries Coming From Showtime and Rolling Stone

    Showtime Documentary Films today announced a new limited docuseries profiling controversial rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine. Titled “SuperVillain” and inspired by the Rolling Stone feature written by Stephen Witt, the three-part series will trace how a New York City deli clerk named Daniel Hernandez became superstar rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine — who racked up 2.6 billion streams and [...]

  • Fader Label Logo

    Fader Label Signs Two New Acts, Boosts Staff

    The Fader Label, home to Clairo, Matt and Kim and others, announced two new signings today along with three new hires on its staff. Charlie Burg and Zachary Knowles have joined the label’s talent roster, while Carson Oberg has come aboard as general manager, Yasmine Panah as project manager and Josh Hymowitz as label coordinator. They [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content