Did CBS Blackout on Time Warner Cable Boost Piracy of ‘Under the Dome’?

Piracy rates for latest ep of the Eye's summertime hit increased in New York, L.A. and Dallas, according to report

'Under the dome' Ratings

Time Warner Cable customers frustrated with the ongoing CBS blackout — and the Eye’s blockade of the operator’s broadband users from watching full episodes at CBS.com — may have turned to piracy in greater numbers to watch latest episode of Stephen King’s “Under the Dome.”

About 14.6% of illegal copies of this Monday’s “Under the Dome” were downloaded in New York, L.A. and Dallas, up from 10.9% for last week’s episode, according to the blog site TorrentFreak. In Gotham, the rate of illegal downloads of “Under the Dome” more than doubled (from 1.3% of all U.S. downloads last week to 3% for Monday’s ep).

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The data is not conclusive, TorrentFreak acknowledged, noting that it is unable to track which pirates are Time Warner Cable broadband customers and that additional research would be need to determine the long-term effect of CBS-TW Cable blackout on piracy.

At around 5 p.m. Eastern on Aug. 2, Time Warner Cable removed CBS stations in Gotham, L.A., Dallas-Ft. Worth and a few other smaller markets, after the companies could not agree on retransmission terms despite weeks of negotiations and deadline extensions. The operator also removed Showtime and other CBS-owned cablers. Since then the companies have waged a PR battle, each accusing the other side of not negotiation in good faith.

Meanwhile, TV ratings for “Under the Dome” may have taken a hit from the blackout, with noticeable audience drops in L.A. and Dallas for the Aug. 5 airing. Monday’s episode averaged a 2.5 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 and 10.2 million viewers overall — down about 10% from last week and the show’s lowest same-night result to date. At the same time, the ratings decline may have largely been attributable to competish from season finale of ABC’s “The Bachelorette.”

Previously, CBS said it expected the Time Warner Cable blackout would have a 1% impact on national ratings.

CBS has a licensing pact for “Under the Dome” with Amazon.com, under which episodes are available four days after telecast on the Internet retailer’s Prime Instant Video service. But evidently, four days is too long to wait for some.

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