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Cablevision Throws Food TV, HGTV Off Its System

Phillip Dampier January 1, 2010 Cablevision, Video 7 Comments

Cablevision, the nation’s fifth largest cable operator, yanked Food TV and HGTV from suburban New York cable systems early this morning in another fight over programming fees.

The two popular cable channels, owned by Scripps Networks, were “no longer authorized” to be shown to Cablevision customers after the two companies failed to reach an agreement over what the cable operator should pay per month for the two networks.

Perhaps overshadowed by the bigger profile Time Warner Cable-Fox dispute which impacts cable customers across the country, the fight between Cablevision and Scripps has been nasty even by the standards of knockdown, drag-out fights characterizing most of these contract spats.

Cablevision characterized Scripps as “financially troubled” in its own account for the press this morning:

“We are sorry that Scripps’ current financial difficulties are making it impossible for them to continue our relationship on terms that are reasonable for Cablevision and our customers,” the company said in a statement. “We wish Scripps well and have no expectation of carrying their programming again, given the dramatic changes in their approach to working with distributors to reach television viewers.”

That’s about as final as it gets, as the cable operator signals it’s done haggling over prices, at least for now.

Cablevision has a website of its own to explain the decision to drop the two networks

As usual, customers are caught in the middle in an advertising and PR war back and forth.

[flv]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Cablevision Message on HGTV Food Channels.flv[/flv]

This morning, Cablevision customers found this message running on the channels formerly occupied by HGTV and Food Network.

Scripps has set up websites for consumers to get their take on the matter, and has also taken to running some 30-second ads of its own, along with network personalities giving their testimony about why the channels are going to be missed.  I Love HGTV and I Love Food Network largely mirror each other’s content in a blog format.  Scripps argument for Food Network, which basically also applies to HGTV:

  1. Food Network is among the most popular brands on television, consistently ranking among the Top 10 networks in cable and satellite. In fact, Food Network attracted record numbers of viewers in 2009.
  2. Cablevision does not pay Food Network comparably to what it pays other Top 10 networks; yet it pays some networks that deliver substantially smaller audiences significantly more for their programming.
  3. The rates currently paid to Food Network by Cablevision are among the lowest in the industry. In 2009, Food Network is 75th of the 79 Nielsen-rated cable and satellite networks in terms of average rates received from distributors per subscriber. (Source: Kagan Research)
  4. Cable subscribers on the whole, responding to the 2009 Beta Subscriber Study, said Food Network is worth $1.03 per month, which is considerably more than Cablevision is paying for the network’s programming and more than Food Network is asking in the current contract negotiations.
  5. Cablevision customers pay an average subscription rate of $83 per month. The monthly fee Cablevision pays for Food Network is a small fraction of that figure.

[flv width=”640″ height=”451″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Scripps Ad for Cablevision Customers.flv[/flv]

Scripps fires back with its own ad alerting Cablevision subscribers to call and ask for HGTV and Food Network back on their lineup.

Judging from the comments left on both of Scripps’ sites, consumers know they are stuck in the middle and many are not thrilled with either party.  Some of the comments:

  • Each of you blames the other, but it’s probably a lot of both, and we, the viewers, are the real losers.  Thanks a lot to both Cablevision and Scripps. You’re just like the Republicans and Democrats — neither side seems to understand the meaning of or necessity for compromise to benefit the masses. Have a wonderful New Year.
  • You guys are schmucks. You waited until the very last minute, on New Years Eve, to tell everyone about this before launching your stupid campaign. You are using your customers to fight your battles, and are ultimately punishing all of them at the end of the day. And that’s pathetic.
  • YOU guys are the scumbags! You’re so greedy, I hope Cablevision snubs you. If Cablevision picks you back up at your hiked rate, we’ll be the ones paying an even higher bill, you idiots.
    Thanks loads and happy new year to you, too. Greedy morons.
  • Whatever the disagreement is on funding, ultimately, it is us as the consumer who are paying the bill. My wife LIVES for the Food Network and would be willing to pay for it as a Premium channel. If that’s the road both sides want to take, both will lose out. Only a few like myself would be willing to pay extra for it……there will be other subscribers that could care less either way.
  • I turned on my TV this morning to watch the Rose Parade at 11 am and found an obnoxious rotating statement from Cablevision instead of the channel. I then went online to the web address they provided on screen and read their say -nothing statement that put the entire blame on Scripps networks. Instead of telling the customers there was a problem and asking what we would want to pay for these networks, they just yanked them. They are the most customer-unfriendly company I have seen, and it is not just from this action where I form this opinion.
  • We have enjoyed the FoodNetwork and HGTV but you deserve to be off Cablevision, there is no way your combined networks are worth almost $2 a month, 25 cents is about right. My cable bill is too high now, 2 bucks for what you have? Forget it, I will have to do it the old fashion way. We lived without you before and will live without you again.
  • To Cablevision, I have had my rates raised countless times over the past 10 years, and have nothing to show but more CRAP channels. I can’t watch NFL channel, I don’t get my hard to find football games because I am a fan of an out of area team, and now, I can’t watch the ONE CHANNEL that I regularly follow, FOOD Network. The fact that companies like you have spurned the “a-la-carte” system that would allow me to choose and pay for the channels I want (which I would gladly do for Food Network and HGTV) and instead want to keep your profit margin as large as possible is a testament to the corporate GREED that you embrace instead of a value based system. You can talk tough and try to put all of the blame on Scripps, but the truth is, you are both to blame.

Somehow, I don’t think this was the kind of reaction either company expected from customers who have wised up to who will ultimately pay to resolve this in the end.

[flv width=”640″ height=”500″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Vern Yip HGTV Cablevision.flv[/flv]

HGTV’s Vern Yip speaks to Cablevision customers about how to get HGTV back on their cable lineup.  (30 seconds)

[flv width=”640″ height=”500″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Guy Fieri on Food Network Being Dropped.flv[/flv]

Food Network’s Guy Fieri is “blown away” with Cablevision’s decision to drop Food Network from the lineup. (30 seconds)

Currently there are 7 comments on this Article:

  1. Donna Bale says:

    Now I don’t have to watch all those sickening Walmart commericals

  2. Tim says:

    Good, and I hope they pull other channels from the line up too if they try to pull something like this. You already pay to watch their programming through commercials. Why do these networks feel the need to double dip? Now Scripps has lost a huge market of viewers and revenue. Is making some money better than making no money? That is the question I would pose to Scripps.

    “# Cable subscribers on the whole, responding to the 2009 Beta Subscriber Study, said Food Network is worth $1.03 per month, which is considerably more than Cablevision is paying for the network’s programming and more than Food Network is asking in the current contract negotiations.
    # Cablevision customers pay an average subscription rate of $83 per month. The monthly fee Cablevision pays for Food Network is a small fraction of that figure.”

    $1.03/month is still too much. No it doesn’t sound like a lot of money but if everyone started charging $1.03 and you got the standard 100 channel package, you would be paying a huge sum for channels you may or may not watch! Sorry, I don’t buy the “fraction” argument. Maybe, if we were in an a la carte world, that argument would have clout but not with bundling.

  3. Ruthie says:

    I can’t believe this. WE are the customer and we are supposed to get what WE want! Afterall, it is OUR money! If Cablevision won’t give me what I want, I am certain that Verizon Fios will!

    Soon to be a former-Cablevision customer.

  4. Aj says:

    I’m really upset that both parties had to resort to this. I will miss the Food Network and HGTV as I watch both channels regularly. It’s a shame that both parties couldn’t continue to negotiate. This is a lose/lose situation. Scripps will lose a chunk of revenue and Cablevision will lose customers who will defect to other providers who have these channels.

    And, btw, for those of you who think that Cablevision will be issuing refunds/reductions for this loss, I wouldn’t race to the bank with my deposit slip just yet.

    • Coreen says:

      I think this is a complete disgrace. In this time of instability in most of our lives, it’s a shame that both of these companies couldn’t come to an agreement. I pay over $100 a month for Cablevision (including my home computer), however, the ONLY two shows I ever watch are FoodTV and HGTV. Now what? Do we get a discount for the loss of the channels? The answer is a resounding NO, as explained to me by a cablevision representative earlier today.

      I truly believe that the consumer is always the one to suffer and the one to also have to pick up the additional expenses in this world. It’s time for that to stop and for these large companies to think of us instead of their pockets. I hear that Cablevision pays only 8cents per customer to Scripps, while it pays over $4 per customer to ESPN. Scripps wants a quarter, couldn’t they just pay that to keep their customer base satisfied?

  5. joyce says:

    The reason I purchased “Cablevision” was for the Foodnetwork and Hgtv programs and it is a shame with the price we paid and also expected to pay the same with these shows dropped.For the most part I watch these programs more than the other channels as I consider them more entertaining than what other stations are showing as well as helpful. We the customers are suffering and forced to watch, turn off tv complelety, or seek other means for another service. Please help your loyal customers. Thank you.

  6. charles says:

    The scripps networks have lost millions in advertising revenue and are now trying to hold cablevision customers hostage for ridculous ransom. According to the NY times Scripps networks have lost 15% of its viewership over the last year. They are attempting to charge a 200% for channels losing watchers. While I understand the frustration of subscribers no company during these times deserve a 200% increase when the Avg is 5%. Why doesnt Scripps show what Verizon is paying or Dish network.

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