Time Warner Cable CEO Says It’s Time To Thin The Cable Channel Herd
By Chris Morran; December 3, 2012
Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt has made no secret of his distaste for the bundles of channels his and other cable companies are forced to accept in order to carry the few channels that customers actually watch. Now, says Britt, it’s time to actually do something about it.
Speaking at investor conference earlier today, Britt declared that as contracts come up for renewal, TWC will review each one thoroughly and drop those channels that “cost too much relative to the value of the service.”
“We’ve accumulated networks that hardly anybody watches,” he told the investors, per the Wall Street Journal. “We can’t keep carrying these giant packages… with services that don’t carry their weight.”
TWC and the other cable/satellite carriers have all been involved in rather public fights with broadcasters in recent years, as content producers seek to charge more for the most viewed channels but require carriers to pay for marginal channels with low viewership.
Perhaps the most notorious fight in recent months was between Dish and AMC Networks. While AMC itself shows relatively high-rated (and certainly acclaimed) shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the satellite company didn’t want to accept AMC’s full bundle of channels, which includes low-rated channels like IFC, Sundance Channel, and WE tv. In the end, this led to the two parties severing ties — and plenty of Dish customers turning to Netflix and other sources to watch The Walking Dead.
Britt, who says the real threat to the cable industry right now is that the increase in the cost of programming packages is outpacing economic growth, says that when it comes to these underperforming channels, there will be a “different kind of conversation… than we had with them five to six years ago.”
Earlier this year, Britt declared, “There are too many networks… There are a lot of general-interest networks that have lower viewership, and the industry would take cost out of the system if they shut those networks down and offered lower prices to consumers… The companies involved would make just as much money as they do now because of the costs.”
No one cares about this. This is a gay website. Please post appropriate topics or you'll be banned
Well, look at you R1, going all Hitler on the OP.
Yes, r1, absolutely no one here watches "Mad Men." I guess that's why some of the most intelligent and indepth discussions of MM episodes occur here.
And no one on Datalounge has ever started a thread wailing about how some major cable or satellite company has dropped his favorite channel.
So, TWC wants to go "ala carte" in the way they purchase content? I sure hope they give us consumers the same choice when we purchase THEIR service.
Spoken like a true Norwegian Catholic, R1
I agree with the CEO and R5. How many channels do we have that duplicate content, or that show 7 hours of informercials per day? I'd love to pick and choose the channels I want. I think that will be the future, anyway, plus more 'on demand' programming where you just purchase the actual shows you want. Mind you, I could just get basic cable for the local stuff and downloading content from iTunes - it would probably work out the same.
Time Warner is truly an evil company. BUT Bundles are a concept that has to go. Nothing but a way of protecting inferior programing.
Buy the channels 1 at a time. The same way you buy everything else in this world.
To me it reads like he wants to drop channels not bundles. Still don't read that he is going to offer a la care service. With ESPN getting 80% of my money and the rest getting my remaining 20% I doubt that will change anytime soon. He is getting my support and money, once he allows me to pay for the channels I want to subscribe to.
I would love to have the Sundance Channel. We get stuck with IFC that probably has lost a lot of viewers since it went from no commercials to heavy commercials. I had no idea it was connected to AMC. I stopped watching that as well.
R5 is right. I have a new cable company and am battling with them now. They've jacked up my rates about $60 since they took over 6 months ago. As soon as Homeland is over, I'm getting rid of everything other than the first 72 channels. I'd be much happier picking and choosing my channels for what I pay.
My satellite company could start by getting rid of all the religious channels. It would be nice if you could create your own bundle.
[quote]It would be nice if you could create your own bundle.
Precisely. There would be a minimum fee to cover installation and maintenance. After that, the channels could be priced individually. If I wanted only five channels, fine. If I wanted three hundred, fine.
I like the idea of a la carte service, but if that happens, all channels will be in competition with one another. The only channels that will survive will be the ones that appeal to the biggest audience. Channels that appeal to a more niche or high-brow audience would die because not enough people would purchase them to make them economically viable. In an a la carte world, cable channels would be forced to dumb down their content even more than they already do.
Can I buy just the sports section of my newspaper?
Forget bundles. Total choice and volume discounts. The more channels you pick, the cheaper they all are.
The niche, erudite channels are the ones that need the most protecting. If a la carte happened, these great channels would disappear.
Up here in Canada, this will be a reality in the next few years. But already, the owners of those "unseen" channels are making noise that they will be in danger when consumers actually decide to choose WHAT THEY WANT without a burdensome bundle.
Anyone else remember how cable was actually GOOD in the 90's? CNN was informative. MTV had music. A&E had arts. Discovery had science. History had no CSI. Fifty billion channels are like the Internet, just because you have unlimited choice doesn't mean those choices are remotely interesting.
[R6] I went to Norway and I didn't meet a damn Catholic! Except for an immigrant from Spain. The natives are all Lutherans there.....As are the Norwegians in Bay Ridge as well! Matt Weiner apology is even more boring than what the OP posted.
[R10] Sundance is becoming like IFC now. Commmercials,commercials and more commercials. Starz Cinema is the only cable channel that plays independent and foreign films uncut and uninterrupted.
I totally want a la carte. There are shit load of channels that I have no desire to watch. All those sports packages, get rid of them.
Comcast, the largest cable company owns NBC, so how far do you think this will get?
In theory it sounds good but if you have ala carte you'd lose like 90% of your channels. Very few cable channels make any money. The rest prop up other channels.
This is why Disney will say, if you want ESPN and ABC you need to take all our crappy channels as well. Same for FOX and all other networks.
It's just how it is
Let's get rid of the sports channels. They cost the cable companies the most.
...and remember when Bravo broadcast operas and not shitty housewives?
Don't fool yourself. The cable companies are basically going to keep rates the same for the consumer and just give you less.
The answer to this is the new Digital Antenna. Free yourself from forced purchases of cable stations you don't want to buy.
I get 31+ digital channels at a higher resolution than cable (cable has to cut the resolution to get all the channels to fit).
If enough people go to digital antennas, the cable companies will have no other choice but to offer stations one at a time.
"All those sports packages, get rid of them."
Good luck with that. ESPN gets $34.00 a month from every cable user, whether they watch it or not. In other words, $34.00 of your monthly cable bill goes to ESPN. It is any wonder with that kind of guaranteed revenue stream, sports teams payrolls are hundreds of millions of dollars and the teams can still make plenty of profit.
r14 is spot on. TWC is not a consumer activist. It's always what's best for the bottomline. I think the a la carte is bad both for subscribers and for programming. How many more high-rated channels devoted to reality TV do we really need? Sadly, trash TV almost always get the most viewers.
and r23 I do remember when BravoTV aired award winning foreign films and other art house films that you would not otherwise find. Good times.
Now, I don't even watch Bravo anymore. Same with A&E. There was a time when it did have the "art" and entertainment. Now it's just more reality/cop crap.
iFC isn't unwatchable because it has commercials now. It's unwatchable because its programming has changed. I used to watch IFC regularly because it aired quality indie films.
The Golf Channel is the first to go.
I'd love to have a la carte cable and wouldn't mind paying extra for "good stuff".
Cable is going to continue to lose money because most people are going to streaming - hulu, netflix, itunes, etc. Why pay for a bunch of dumb shit you'll never watch?
[quote] As soon as Homeland is over, I'm getting rid of everything other than the first 72 channels.
Why wait? I don't understand why some of you pay hundreds a month to watch shows that can easily be found on the internet. And no, I'm not talking torrents, I'm talking streaming.
Because not everyone wants to watch their favorite shows on a small computer screen r31. Moreover, sometimes you just want to come home, flip on the TV and relax on the sofa. Who wants to spend time searching the web to see what site(s) streams their shows?
Is TW the same as Comcast which is now Xfinity in my area?
[quote]Because not everyone wants to watch their favorite shows on a small computer screen [R31].
You can hook up your computer to your TV.
[quote] Who wants to spend time searching the web to see what site(s) streams their shows?
It takes five minutes to find a show. Millions of people do it.
Some people don't like the idea of illegally pirating their content R34. Not saying I am above it, but I get why everyone is not okay with it. Not to mention obviously if everyone did so there would be no money for the creation of new content.
Well, that's true, r35.
Without streaming, though, I would have never seen the original series The Killing (Forbrydelsen), which was amazing.
Also, another Danish show is available for streaming on a legit web site (LinkTV). It's called Borgen. Just like Forbrydelsen it will never be aired here, because a US remake is in the works.
I am one of those people who can wait a year to watch a full season of a show on Netflix, too.
Link to Borgen below:
I only watch free tv. Lately, they have surprised me with Montalbano the Younger. I was surprised it was almost as good as Montalbano!
Speaking of Homeland I know I'm one of those bad persons for doing so but I'm watching the current season on Channel 4 out of the UK through a proxy fooling thingy. They're only 1 week behind and I don't mind seeing the cute UK Christmas commercials.
I ditched "big cable" a year ago and don't miss it at all. I've got more than enough to watch with Netflix, Hulu and just streaming from Logo (RuPaul), Lifetime (Project Runway) and the like plus a digital antenna for those rare times I want to watch broadcast TV.
Of course, the irony in Southern California is that Time Warner Cable paid an obscene amount of money to the Laker so they could have exclusive rights to their games. Lots of sports bars couldn't even access the games because TWC wasn't available in their areas and lost money for the games. They were the ones who started holding other cable and satellite firms hostage as they had exclusive rights and the public demand for the Laker product was huge. After a few months, Dish is the only holdout.
LinkTV???? You've got to be kidding. That's basically like watching the Pravda channel.
[quote]LinkTV???? You've got to be kidding. That's basically like watching the Pravda channel.
They have some foreign films and a couple of TV shows that are worth watching. It's good streaming quality and it's legit. But, please, keep paying $100 a month for your cable.
Sundance doesn't show ads during the movie, just between movies. The downside to Sundance is that there's not yet an HD version.
IFC is now the Malcolm In The Middle channel. WTF? But at least they have an HD channel.
How about someone create a thread on streaming - how to stream, what is available, what quality etc. I think I have most of what I need I just don't know what to do.
r43 I like that idea. I have questions about Roku as I've heard a lot about it but don't know much about it.
Done, r43 and r44.
I have a roku and hardly watch even my basic cable anymore. The only thing I watch regularly is the Walking Dead. I can stream movies and shows from Netflix and Amazon. There are other channels available but since you pay a monthly fee for those I didn't see the point as I was trying to cut down on expenses.
"most people are going to streaming - hulu, netflix, itunes, etc."
Not until The Most Populous Generation is gone, r30.
Just leave me with MSNBC and I'm fine.
I dropped cable a number of years ago. Switched to Directv and two years ago I cut that off when I lost my job.
I've been getting by with over the air, Netflix streaming, Netflix DVDs and Hulu. I spend about $25 a month versus spending over $150 a year.
I've caught up on a lot of shows via streaming and DVD. I get enough of a fix of some current shows via Hulu.
Even though I now have a job, I won't waste all that money on subscription TV again.
You spend 25 a month against 150 a year you used to spend?