TWC-CBS Dispute Hurts Local Ratings In N.Y., L.A.; FCC Could Step In
Since Time Warner Cable stopped carrying CBS-owned TV stations in N.Y., L.A. and Dallas a week ago, all three outlets "have experienced rating declines for both national programming and local news," according to Flint & James of the L.A. TIMES. Many of those cities' local newscasts "have bled viewers." In L.A., the "pain" for KCBS "has been felt particularly hard" in its 5:00pm and 11:00pm PT newscasts. From Monday through Thursday of last week, the 5:00pm news "averaged 73,000 viewers, down 33% from the previous week," while the 11:00pm news "averaged 119,000 viewers, down 25% from the previous week." CBS also owns KCAL, which "counts on Dodger games and local news for ratings. Although the "red-hot Dodgers are still a draw, KCAL's news ratings have taken a big hit since Time Warner Cable stopped carrying the station." If the blackout "drags on, the CBS TV stations could find themselves having to provide additional commercial time to make up for ratings shortfalls." CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn said that so far that "has not been an issue" (L.A. TIMES, 8/10). Daily Beast Business Editor Dan Gross noted TWC "can't afford to be losing revenues the way they are." CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin said it "can't afford to lose customers the way I imagine they could" if this goes on goes past "when the Jets start playing" on CBS. Sorkin: "I imagine customers start calling up and saying, 'I'm cutting the cord.'" But CNBC's Scott Wapner was adamant when he said the dispute is "not going on past the NFL start" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 8/12).
FCC GETTING INVOLVED? In N.Y., Claire Atkinson reported FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn on Friday "fired a warning shot." Clyburn said that she "would take 'appropriate action' if the two sides can't end their spat." TWC customers were "set to miss out on the Jets’ preseason opener" last Friday against the Lions. CBS said that its ratings have "barely been affected by the loss of 3.2 million Time Warner Cable subscribers" in N.Y., Dallas and L.A. The net said that its primetime audience is "off by just 46,000 viewers, compared with the previous week" (N.Y. POST, 8/10).
MISSING LINKS: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wrote under the header, "Golf Fans Aced Out In Spat Between CBS, Time Warner" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/11). The AP's Ryan Nakashima reported N.Y.-based fan Nancy Keiter planned "to watch the PGA Championship ... on TNT on Saturday and Sunday" until 2:00pm, then "switch from the TV set to her computer." PGA.com was scheduled to "follow the featured golfers with live video coverage through the trophy ceremony" (AP, 8/11). Donald Trump on his Twitter feed wrote, "I can't believe that in New York we can't watch the PGA Championship on CBS. How much discount is Time Warner giving its customers?" (TWITTER.com, 8/10).
ESPN/DISH FACE-OFF COMING? VARIETY’s Todd Spangler wrote a "big contract dispute may be brewing” between Dish Network and ABC/ESPN, and it "could be every bit as contentious” as the CBS/TWC dispute. Dish’s agreement with Disney for ESPN is “set to expire” Sept. 30. Dish Chair & CEO Charlie Ergen said that the satcaster is prepared to drop ESPN and other Disney networks if the companies can’t reach a deal. “We’ll work first and foremost to find a deal with Disney that makes sense for our customers,” Ergen said on the company’s earnings call this week. “If we get that deal, we’ll do it. If we don’t get that deal, we’ll part ways -- simple as that” (VARIETY.com, 8/9).