Word that Fox and Time Warner Cable can’t come to an agreement regarding distribution fees probably won’t reach the network’s millions of viewers until after the new year. By that time, the current contract will have run out (it ends today), meaning Fox’s stations will be removed from TWC’s lineup, all because Fox wants the cable operation to pay about $1 per subscriber each month.
Calling on reduced advertising revenue, Fox claims it deserves moneys TWC earns from distribution. If such a deal is reached, it could set a precedent for other cable/network stations to demand similar agreements. In the short term it means viewers in New York, LA and a smattering of other cities won’t be able to access Fox. But will Fox die-hards leave TWC for say, Comcast, Dish, DirectTV or Verizon?
The probability may seem low given Time Warner’s stranglehold on, for example, New York, where it is the only service available in much of Manhattan.
Outside of Fox’s news and cable stations which aren’t part of the scuffle, this could mean bad news for both content provider and distributor. Much of Fox’s entertainment content is available on Hulu soon after it airs. Increasingly, Fox programs are showing up on Netflix as well, not to mention the fact that it’s possible to illegally download most any show from torrent Web sites these days.
According to “Zap2It“, Dish Network and DirectTV have already gained subscribers leaving TWC, after launching a campaign highlighting that Fox could be going away. Included in the ads are next-day-installation offers, which “will vary per market while capacity allows,” a spokesman tells Zap2it. ‘We’re ramping up our installers in designated markets and urging people to call early to schedule their install so that we can accommodate everyone leaving no one with interrupted service.'”
For advertisers it raises a different problem: how to reach Fox’s millions of viewers in areas where TWC is the only distributor available. If one thing is clear, it’s that TWC aims to lose even more ad revenue should a deal not be reached. The station will go off the air January 1, 2010, if that happens.