It was to my dismay in recent days when I was home for lunch and found a black screen when I turned on Showtime. It wasn’t that moment that provided the maligned surprise as I’ll occasionally get the same black screen when I turn on ESPN at times. This is usually corrected by waiting a minute or so, or going to another channel, then flipping back, except this time, flipping back did not provide the desired effect. Instead, I was introduced to this message of doom…
“CBS Corporation has required Bright House Networks to stop carrying Showtime and The Movie Channel. As a courtesy, we are offering temporary replacement programming, where available from Starz or Encore. Please check your guide for channel numbers. We continue to negotiate and believe this will be resolved soon. Thank you for your patience and for being a valued customer. For more information, visit brighthouse.com.” Ironic that the backdrop to this message is the same vivid shade of blue you get when Windows crashes.
Anyway, I wanted answers, so I did what any investigative reporter would do. I went to the internet. That’s where the barrage of headlines reared their heads like flashing Vegas marquees. As it turns out, CBS owns Showtime. The whole of CBS’ dispute is with Time Warner Cable, who of course carries channels like Showtime. While Bright House is my cable provider and not Time Warner, I apparently live in an area south of Tampa where Time Warner once reigned supreme. Because of that, I am feeling the greedy wrath of corporate America and have been deprived of some seriously entertaining programming.
CBS has also allegedly ordered Time Warner Cable to stop carrying its general CBS station. While I am still able to view CBS via my provider, one has to wonder about the way CBS is trying to accomplish their goal. In a way, they are cutting off their own nose to spite their face. What is this whole ordeal about anyway? Why, money of course! Yes folks the almighty dollar sign will sweep the masses out from under their legs faster than you can say “Thank God Game of Thrones is on HBO.”
So here’s the deal…or here’s why there’s not a deal I should say. From an interview with ABC, Tony Case, Executive Editor of ADWEEK, stated that Time Warner Cable pays CBS $.75 to $1.00 per subscriber in New York, but CBS wants $2.00. While that may not seem like such an high amount to ask for at merely a dollar more a subscriber, think of it this way; that’s at least double what is currently being paid to CBS. Did CBS’ operation costs suddenly go through the roof? Has Time Warner Cable been getting a steal all along? Doubtful on both accounts. When you take the city and surrounding areas of New York City, that is already a cash cow that CBS is reaping the financial rewards from. We’re not even looking at the rest of the country yet.
Rebecca Jarvis from Good Morning America reports that the blackout of Showtime (and CBS in some areas) could last anywhere from 10 days to 6 weeks, which happens to go beyond the start of the NFL season. As CBS is a major carrier of NFL games and the NFL rakes in cash like no other sports league on the continent, you can bet they’ll want to have this wrapped up by the time Tom Brady takes his first snap. All I know is I’m missing Dexter and Ray Donovan because somebody couldn’t iron out the details of their contract well enough in advance. Grab a Sharpie and some cocktail napkins and sort it out people.