As CBS and Time Warner Cable (TWC) continue their contractual spat and millions of customers are denied access to programming from what was once was known as the Tiffany Network, Clint Eastwood's famous "go ahead, make my day," line seems like a the perfect characterization for all those subscriber caught in the middle.
As my co-host Jeff Macke and I discuss in the attached video, the blackout, now in its third day, has no end in sight and yet, alternatives to traditional TV viewing abound. In fact, a few are just begging for new viewers to give them a try, get hooked, and cut the cord once and for all.
Just last week, Google (GOOG) introduced its $35 Chromecast device, the newest cable-TV alternative which is instantly back-ordered by up t0 a month.
While studies have shown that nearly one third of households will consider cutting the cord this year, only one percent will actually do it. Even the CEO of Cablevision (CVC) James Dolan says he rarely watches TV, but when he does, it's via Netflix (NFLX) and over a broadband internet connection. In fact, Dolan goes as far as saying that the cable industry is living in a "bubble," and that he can envision a time when his company doesn't even offer TV service.
In some ways, that's the catch or the back-up plan for Time Warner Cable in this spat, in as much as cord-cutting typically involves ditching TV but leaves internet intact. So even if you leave Time Warner Cable - or whichever provider - there's a good chance you will still remain a customer.
On the content side of things, where costs perpetually rise but blockbusters are hit-or-miss, the worry is more about making good shows and covering big events than it is where to show them. Still, CBS points out that this is the first time in its history that it has been booted from a platform, whereas Time Warner Cable has had 50 such blackout disputes in the past five years alone.
It's not like consumers are exactly in love with their cable providers to begin with, or trampling each other to catch the latest episode of Under the Dome on CBS, but the mere thought of being inconvenienced (or charged more) could be the proverbial straw that breaks the back of hordes of agitated consumers, and gets them to finally go Dirty Harry on their cable box.
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- Time Warner Cable