By : Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 07 Mar 2010
Cablevision Systems Corp. March 7 said it would offer its broadband subscribers free video-on-demand (VOD) access to Oscar-nominated movies in response to The Walt Disney Co.’s decision to pull its WABC affiliate from the cable operator over a license fee dispute.
WABC is the local Disney affiliate carrying live network coverage of the March 7 Academy Awards broadcast.
Movies on demand are accessible to digital customers with an interactive digital set-top box or the Enhanced TV menu on the iO TV user interface.
When Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision, with 3 million subscribers, refused to pay Disney a $40 million surcharge on top of $200 million in annual license fees, Disney cut access to the station at midnight March 6.
During the Oscar telecast, Cablevision iO TV subscribers have free VOD access to Oscar-nominated and box office hits such as District 9, Julie & Julia, The Cove, A Serious Man, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Star Trek, The Hurt Locker, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Inglorious Basterds and Up.
Cablevision also hired former New York Post "Page Six" deputy editor Paula Froelich to blog live coverage (via Twitter and Facebook) of the Oscars and communicated additional ways for customers to access Academy Awards red carpet and event coverage on television and online.
With advertising revenue under siege due to the recession, media companies have upped the rhetoric for license rights and fees across all distribution channels.
Cablevision argues its customers shouldn’t have to pay a TV tax for programming ABC Disney gives away free over-the-air and on the Internet, according to Charles Schueler, EVP of communications.
“In tough economic times, it is shameful that ABC Disney would hold viewers hostage by threatening to pull the plug," Schueler said March 5, in a statement.