TWC CEO Glenn Britt threatened to drop networks with low ratings when their programming contracts expire at a conference 12/3 in New York. “If you have a network that is getting hash-mark ratings and no real sign it’s going to get any better, we’re going to have a different kind of conversation that we might have had five, six or 10 years ago,” Britt said.
Now, news is starting to surface on which ones he’s talking about.
Britt has started telling some programmers that they can either go dark or get no fee at all in return for continued distribution on his service. The networks must “take carriage for no payment,” meaning forfeit their usual subscriber fees while they work to improve their ratings, according to a NY Post story.
The take-it-or-leave-it approach has come up in renewal negotiations with several channels, including IFC and WE TV, whose contracts end 1/1. Those talks are expected to go down to the wire the story noted. The networks are part of AMC Networks. The flagship AMC channel isn’t part of the talks and is unlikely to be in danger of being booted, as it aired hits like “Mad Men” and cable’s highest-rated show of the year, “Walking Dead.”
TWC has already kicked off at least one network that refused to accept its terms. Ovation, an arts and music channel, will be dropped at the end of the year.
Sources told NY Post that NuvoTV, an English-language cable channel targeting Hispanics, is also getting booted from digital basic as part of a realignment of Time Warner Cable’s programming tiers. Nuvo, previously known as Si TV, is part owned by singer and actress Jennifer Lopez.
On its customer relations website, twcconversations, Time Warner Cable contends: “We are pushing back against TV networks that demand more money without delivering more value.”
The company says if it paid 2 cents more per day for the 80 channels it carries, it would add $48 a month to a bill. While the network hasn’t announced plans to pass along any cost savings to customers from its cable culling, it says it is “developing more flexible packaging options.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Will this move by Britt keep subscriber costs down? Who knows, but it’s likely being done as a sacrifice against fees the new sports networks cropping up are charging, in addition to ESPN’s high-dollar fees. Offering all of the networks would be the other solution, but doing so via a la carte packages. Meanwhile, we’ve heard TWC is giving at least one local TV station in NY state some pushback against carrying their multicast network. We’re not hearing that’s the shape of things to come, however.