Cablevision Paying Subs to Watch World Series on the Web28 Oct, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Unable to air the World Series due to an ongoing retransmission fee dispute with News Corp., Cablevision Systems Corp. is offering to pay subscribers to stream the games over the Internet.
Cablevision, which has about 3 million subscribers in the New York area, is offering $10 reimbursements to members who opt to watch real-time streaming of the series on MLB.TV. The website is charging $9.95 for the best-of-seven games between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers.
MLB.tv is available on Roku media players and other devices.
Retransmission fees are levied by national broadcasters Fox, which is owned by News Corp., CBS, NBC and ABC (Disney) on cable and satellite operators as a means of generating incremental revenue on original programming. With an ongoing weak advertising market, broadcasters have been upping the fees — much to the annoyance of multichannel operators.
Cablevision alleges News Corp. wants it to pay more to broadcast the local Fox affiliate than its pays CBS, NBC, ABC and Univision combined. As a result, Fox broadcasts on the cable provider have been suspended.
That a cable operator would persuade subscribers to seek an over-the-top alternative is noteworthy considering MSOs have been losing video subs in record numbers this year due to the recession and increasing Web-based entertainment options.
“One would never expect to see a cable company actively encouraging its consumers to watch live TV programming over the Web without the need for a multichannel video subscription,” BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield wrote in a blog post.
In a survey of Cablevision subscribers, Greenfield found that members cited the MLB playoffs, NFL football and TV shows “Glee” and “House” as the most missed programming during the dispute. About 19% of current subscribers said they would leave Cablevision in the next week if the dispute was not settled and 37% said they would leave in the next month.