I don’t know about you, but I am getting pretty frustrated with the little message banners at the bottom of my CBS and CW TV shows saying to call DISH Network because I may lose my CBS and CBS affiliate networks soon.
Here’s the low down:
CBS Corp and Dish Network are butting heads in a carrier contract renewal battle and that if some agreement cannot be reached between these two television giants, then CBS will be pulling its programming from 16 markets, come Thursday, December 4th, 2014, at 7 PM/ET. Some of those markets include Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Detroit.
These companies have been at it (negotiating) for the last six months over a carriage contract. The contract will dictate how much Dish pays for the rights to air CBS channels, plus various terms for streaming of other digital rights.
This contract dispute/negotiation impacts 14 CBS owned stations, seven CW Network stations and five independent network stations. These stations are in 16 different markets.
Both parties claim they are working hard at meeting the other party in the middle, but I have a hard time believing either party, despite CBS saying that Dish has been dragging their feet way too long.
These contract fights are getting more complex as time goes on as streaming of television content becomes more of a contributing factor to the bottom line between carriers. In this case, talks involve Dish’s plans to offer a streaming service that will deliver live TV over the Internet and the rights surrounding its Hopper DVR service. The Hopper DVR lets users record primetime shows, skip commercials and watch recorded content outside the home.
Because CBS has some heavy hitters in the ratings game, they do have some clout. But then again, Dish Network has around 14 million subscribers and a very cool piece of equipment called the Hopper.
Did you know, according to various sources, that in 2013 Dish had dropped 120 stations during contractual negotiations and Dish has been involved in over a third of all contractual blackouts? Or that CBS went dark for a month last August on Time Warner Cable? Did you notice that Cartoon Network and CNN had been pulled by Dish for a time just recently?
But those recanting is moot. In this case, CBS is going to pull their content from Dish if Dish does not comply with their financial demands. The demands have been kept mum, especially from any CBS source, but we can only assume that since Dish is trying to keep costs down, that CBS wants more money. And the network being more than willing to pull their content from your Dish lineup seems to say that CBS could give a sheet about you, the viewing audience, to get their way. It is all about the mighty advertising dollar, including the advertising dollar while carriers are trying to keep their costs to customers down. While I say that, the news this season is that advertising dollars are down 6%, with basic and cable networks only, ONLY, pulled in ~$18 billion for the 2014-2015 TV season.
CBS does have the leverage due to its highly rated content, including football contracts, where the live sporting events can pull in 20 million viewers. The snag with football is that the leverage it has is that the NFL does not allow its product to be streamed.
Speaking of streaming, it is streaming content that has complicated the advertising dollar scene, as everyone is sorting out how to monetize their products through that venue. Not to mention that, coincidentally, CBS just put up an online streaming service that will provide their shows for a small fee. Hence, I see where they can pull their content from Dish and then wait for desperate fans to sign up there, putting further pressure on Dish. (Which is great for those who can afford the bandwidth.)
In other news, Dish is also in a heated debate with Comcast/NBC, where according to Dish, Comcast is asking for a 20 percent increase in fees.
Bottom line, Dish is trying to keep prices down while everyone else wants more money to carry their content. And when the networks get more money for their content, guess who gets to pay for that in the long run? Yep… it’s not bad enough that the networks get billions for their entertainment, but then they hold the cable and satellite carriers over a barrel. Back in 2012 Dish Network had pulled AMC for a few weeks to make their own contractual point.
The bottom line is that the television viewer, is nothing but a bargaining chip or fodder in this contract war. We are just fodder to the big nets.
PS: As of this morning, 12-4-14; 7AM CA time, I see no news about anyone backing down before I set this piece to post two hours from now. -B