A month-long standoff that prevented millions of U.S. households from watching hit television shows like Under the Dome and NCIS — and threatened to interfere with the start of football season — ended Monday after Time Warner Cable and CBS Corp. reached a programming agreement.
The deal covers more than three million homes in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles that hadn't been able to receive programming from CBS or CBS-owned channels since Aug. 2. Broadcasting resumed Monday evening on the east coast.
The companies had been fighting over how much Time Warner Cable Inc. would pay for programming on CBS and other channels, including Showtime Networks, CBS Sports Network and the Smithsonian channel. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
The agreement includes re-transmission fees the cable operator pays to CBS per subscriber, which had been a sticking point.
Fewer people watching TV conventionally
The disagreement came at a touchy time for networks and cable companies as more and more Americans are turning to alternative ways of watching TV, including online or via Roku boxes or Apple TV. Added pressure was on the two companies to reach an agreement with CBS holding deals to broadcast NFL and Southeastern Conference football, as well as the start of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
The blackout affected about 1.1 million of the 7.4 million households that get CBS in New York. An estimated 1.3 million of 5.6 million households in Los Angeles were blacked out, along with 400,000 of Dallas's 2.6 million TV homes, CBS said. Those are three of the nation's five most-populous television markets.
CBS estimated the blackout cut the network's national viewership by about one per cent.
The talks were being closely watched beyond these companies and their customers because of the idea that a re-transmission agreement would set a precedent for future negotiations between networks and cable or satellite companies.
On-demand, mobile conditions a sticking point
Another point of contention was the cable operator's access to CBS material for on-demand or mobile device viewing.
"While we certainly didn't get everything we wanted, ultimately, we ended up in a much better place than when we started," Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said in a statement.
Mignon L. Clyburn, acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, issued a statement saying she was "pleased CBS and Time Warner Cable have resolved their re-transmission consent negotiations, which for too long have deprived millions of consumers of access to CBS programming."
In the end, she added, media companies should "accept shared responsibility" for putting their audiences' interests above other interests.