Cable Wars…haven’t we done this?

The people who provide entertainment, and I use that word loosely, have begun a pissing contest to see who can make a bigger mess on the floor. It’s quite ridiculous, but it has gotten enough out of hand that I felt compelled to break out my typing skills and blow the dust off the old blog. For the purposes of disclosure, I am a DirecTV customer.

First, let’s identify a few players:

Time Warner Cable (formerly Insight, here in Louisville, KY) is a national media juggernaut. The second largest multiple service provider in the nation with more than 15 million subscribers. Its CEO is Glenn Britt who ranks #87 on Forbes’ CEO Compensation list at 16.55 million a year.

DirecTV is one of the world’s leading providers of digital television services with more than 32 million customers. Its CEO is Michael White who ranks #298 on Forbes’ CEO Compensation list at 5.74 million a year.

Viacom is a leading global entertainment content company, a conglomeration of television, movies, etc. Its CEO is Phillipe Dauman who ranks #27 on Forbes’ CEO Compensation list at 30.89 million a year.

Before this all gets out of hand, my main focus is to be the current DirecTV/Viacom kerfuffle that seems to be gathering steam. But, I do want to cover Time Warner. Time Warner, recently, turned off its broadcast of the WDRB, our Fox affiliate, over a contract dispute. It was eventually resolved, but not before customers lost programming for a while. Currently, Time Warner is in a dispute with WLKY, our CBS affiliate, which has eliminated local programming. Instead, they’re piping in something from Rochester, I believe.

None of that matters to me. Why? Well, I’m a DirecTV customer and have been for 9 years. We had Insight for about 4 hours. That’s how long it operated correctly. When we called to complain, they said it would be nine days for them to come out and fix it. My wife wasted no time in fixing it herself by dropping the service. However, they continued to bill us for service we weren’t receiving and only after a letter to the Better Business Bureau did they finally stop. Every few months they send around more sales guys who are doing their best to “save us money.” For a long time, we could ask if they had MLBNetwork, a staple in our home, as it’s really the only sports channel I care for, and that would stop them at the door. Finally, they’ve added it…but it’s unlikely we’ll switch, because DirecTV has been outstanding in every level of service for the last nine years, that it seems silly to switch. Plus, I doubt if they’ll save me that much money. Time Warner is known for its rate hikes.

Okay…on to DirecTV and Viacom. Now, Viacom apparently wanted to charge more for its programming, which DirecTV was not happy about. Consequently, they decided to turn off those Viacom channels. Negotiations are still ongoing, but customers are losing programming. And, it’s to this point that I was really moved to write something…because I received an email from Viacom telling me what I was missing and I should go and complain to DirecTV about this. Here’s why I’m not going to.

The channels that I’m now “missing” are MTV, Nick, Comedy Central, BET, TVLand, VH1, CMT, Spike, and 18 more. The best part of this is the 18 more…like Viacom couldn’t be bothered to tell you about them, because you’re probably not watching them anyway. Then, Viacom goes on to list the shows that I’m “missing” on these channels: Jersey Shore, The Real World: St. Thomas, Snooki and JWoww, Teen Mom, Teen Wolf, Dora the Explorer, iCarly, Spongebob Squarepants, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Futurama, Workaholics, The Game, 106 & Park, Black Girls Rock!, Reed Between The Lines, Single Ladies, Mob Wives, Hollywood Exes, Basketball Wives, Divas, 1000 Ways to Die, Repo Games, Auction Hunters, Impact Wrestling, Bar Rescue, Flip Men, Hot in Cleveland, Happily Divorced, Bayou Billionaires, My Big Redneck Vacation, Redneck Island, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, The Singing Bee, 1 Girl 5 Gays, RuPaul’s Drag U, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, In the Big House…and that’s just a sampling of the high quality programming that I’m “missing.” 

Of those 40 or so shows, I watched 3 of them with mediocre regularity…2 of those 3 I can get through Netflix. So, I guess what I’m saying is that I was not a big Viacom constituent. Nothing has really changed for me. I’d also say that if you are watching a lot of this content (and this is going to sound elitist, and there’s really nothing I can do to soften the blow here), not only do we probably not have a lot in common, but you’re most likely contributing to the continued downfall of society. Except for The Daily Show. I love Jon Stewart and that might be the most valuable show on television. Still, I wasn’t watching it that much, so maybe it wasn’t. Sorry Jon.

I never watched MTV, BET, TVLand, VH1, or CMT for any reason. I watched Nick with my daughter occasionally, although she much prefers Sprout. I only watched Spike when they were running the Star Wars film marathons. I did occasionally watch Comedy Central for The Daily Show and for comedy specials, but Netflix again has me covered for the most part.

So, I remain a loyal DirecTV customer as they seem to have my best interests at heart. But, this ridiculous “he said/he said” nonsense that always accompanies these entertainment showdowns is annoying. It does nothing but detract from my television watching…which, now that I think about it, might be a good thing anyway.

See you in the funny papers!


2 thoughts on “Cable Wars…haven’t we done this?

  1. I can honestly say that based on your comments here (and me moving) I looked into DirectTV, purchased it, cancelled my Insight and will be saving a bunch of money! I am keeping them for internet but that is all. Thank you for your enlightenment!!

  2. There were even dueling Twitter hashtags on the companies’ respective accounts — with DirecTV opting for #DIRECTVHasMyBack and Viacom going for the more combative #whendirectvdrops.

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