In case you haven’t heard, Time Warner Cable may not be carrying FOX channels after the first of the year (this includes, FOX, MyNetworkTV, FuelTV, All the Fox Sports + Fox Soccer, FX and Speed).  This has been brewing for most of the year, but it looks like it’s going to be coming down the wire as it did between Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Viacom last year.

Best I can understand (and believe me they do not make it easy to get the un-spun truth) the issue at hand is a disagreement over the value of FOX’s contents per subscriber.  TWC wants to pay something like $.50 / subscriber while FOX wants more like ~$1 / subscriber.  A full 100% difference in desired price is not a great sign for a negotiation that has been going on for months.  I’d usually take that kind of information to mean that they two sides are either big time posturing (they definitely are) and/or there is little to no chance of a reconciliation in the near term (no one knows).

Both companies have launched what are essentially propaganda sites for FOX and for TWC to ‘inform’ customers on the ‘facts.’  In this case, I have to say that FOX’s site and information seem significantly more reasoned and particularly focused on addressing TWC’s claims.  TWC’s site takes every opportunity to point the finger at FOX while reserving the right to raise rates regardless of what happens.  FOX points out that TNT receives ~$1 / subscriber and based on viewers FOX could reasonably be asking for $5-$10 / subscriber and the fact that they are asking for $1 is not at all unreasonable.  If all that is true (I have not confirmed) then I’m not sure I can disagree with FOX.  TWC keeps throwing up claims of 300% increases, but I can’t seem to find any indication of what is being increased 300%.

It’d be very interesting to know where the BCS and NFL stand on this whole thing as they seem to be the outside institutions in position to lose the most money should there be an outage.  I imagine they just want to see a resolution no matter what, but are they working both TWC and FOX or just FOX?  The ripple effect of the NFL missing TV opportunities and BCS bowl games being blacked out to 13 million households could be pretty extensive (advertisers would not be happy).

I never really thought I’d be on FOX’s side for much of anything other than keeping The Simpsons on the air, but if I had to pick sides here, it definitely would not be Time Warner Cable.  I was a TWC subscriber for many years before switching to DirecTV (so I’m not at risk of losing FOX…yay?!)  and I can definitely say that both companies are a pain in the ass.  It’s unfortunate, but we are once again seeing a situation where there is absolutely no good outcome for the consumer.  No matter what happens here rates will go up and subscribers may or may not temporarily lose access to some of the most popular television programming.


Here is what you need to know…

You can’t do anything to effect this one in the near future.  If FOX gives in and accepts the lower price your TWC bill will still go up unreasonably within the next 6 months.  If TWC gives in and pays the higher price your TWC bill will go up even more in a shorter time frame.

Long term, the only thing I can recommend is pushing for changes at the FCC that would require cable and content providers to offer a la carte pricing.  This would allow consumers to pay for specific channels or smaller groupings of channels rather than being forced into the 400 channel bundles we all have now.  The concept of a la cart pricing is not a new one and we even saw it happen in the satellite radio industry as one of concessions of the XM / Sirius merger.  This is the only type of change that will really benefit consumers receiving content through cable or satellite. Of course, cable companies hate this idea (I wont bore you with the details of why they hate it, but suffice it to say that it’s related to the value of an individual customer).  As is usually the case, letting people pay only for the things they want (without being forced to take things they don’t want) is the best way to provide value to the customer.

Hopefully you’ve got a better idea of why you are being bombarded by these propaganda ads and junk mail.  It’s to bad we can’t do anything about it.

If you have any questions drop me a comment and I’ll do my best.