CBS on Thursday launched an ad campaign that is intended to scare TV watchers and make them angry.
As a TV screen draped in chains plays shows like Late Night with David Letterman, The NFL on CBS and The PGA Tour, a voice urgently intones: “Time Warner Cable is holding your favorite shows hostage. They are threatening to drop CBS, and it’s not an empty threat.”
Why the histrionics? Negotiations between Time Warner Cable and CBS over retransmission fees are breaking down as a July 24 deadline looms. That’s when the extension of a previous agreement, which expired June 30, comes to an end.
Time Warner Cable claims that CBS is asking it to pay 600 percent more in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, where CBS owns TV stations. But more is at stake than premium pricing in a handful of markets.
As BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield points out in an analysis this morning, an end to dramatic increases in retransmission fees may be in sight as streaming TV services like Aereo increasingly offer broadcast alternatives to broadband customers. (Access to Greenfield’s analysis is free, but you will have to register.)
“Normally we would expect Time Warner Cable to get crushed in negotiations with CBS,” Greenfield writes. “However, the more we think through the…