Time Warner Cable Upbeat Over Loss of 152K Video Subs31 Jul, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Under siege by TV viewers unable to watch the L.A. Dodgers, No. 2 cabler proclaims video sub loss as ‘best quarter in three years’
The times are indeed changing when the country’s No. 2 cable operator characterizes a quarterly loss of 152,000 video subscribers as a positive.
That’s what Time Warner Cable did July 31 when it declared the fiscal period (ended June 30) subscriber loss as the “best second quarter in three years.” The notation mirrored wording by pending corporate parent Comcast, which described its loss of 144,000 video subs as the best quarterly performance in six years.
TWC did lose 191,000 video subs during the previous-year period enroute to a decline of 833,000 video subs in 2013.
The cabler has a lot on its plate these days as it assuages regulators scrutinizing its $45.2 billion sale to Comcast, among other issues. TWC carries exclusive broadcasts (for the next 25 years) of the Los Angeles Dodgers on SportsNet LA — a regional network owned by the Dodgers and which TWC subscribers must pay an additional $4 a month to access.
With TWC in charge of sales and distribution of SportsNet LA, it has been unable to secure retransmission agreements with other multichannel video program distributors unwilling to pay the heightened fees. As result, Dodgers games are available to just 30% of homes in the nation’s second-largest TV market.
Through the first week of July, ratings for SportsNet LA reportedly are down 70% compared with last year, when the Dodgers were broadcast on Fox Sports' Prime Ticket network.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who is also overseeing the establishment of new net neutrality guidelines, July 29 sent a letter to TWC CEO Rob Marcus criticizing the cabler for the situation.
“I am writing to express my strong concern about how your actions appear to have created the inability of consumers in the Los Angeles area to watch televised games of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The FCC will continue to monitor this dispute closely and will intervene as appropriately necessary to bring relief to consumers. As you know, soaring bills for cable and other MVPD services have become a cause of consumer dismay,” Wheeler wrote in the letter, according to RBR.com.
TWC said it welcomes government involvement into the situation, telling the Los Angeles Times it would like to know why MVPDs such as DirecTV and others refuse to carry SportsNet LA. The cabler offered to enter binding arbitration to resolve the issue.