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October 25, 2014

Why You Can't Watch Food Network and HGTV on Cablevision

by Gary Susman, posted Jan 4th 2010 2:30PM
The price battles between TV channels and cable service providers continue. While Time Warner Cable and Fox have called a truce and reached a temporary agreement that allows TWC subscribers to keep watching 'House' and weekend football, the dispute continues between Cablevision and Scripps over fees for Food Network and HGTV, leaving 3.1 million subscribers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut without access to Bobby Flay or 'Design Star.'

As Inside TV reported earlier, Scripps has been trying for months to negotiate a higher price from Cablevision than the 25 cents per subscriber per month it had been receiving for Food Network and HGTV combined. By the time the two parties' contract expired on Dec. 31, they had not reached an agreement, so Scripps pulled both channels from the Cablevision lineup.

Both sides are blaming each other for the current impasse. Cablevision released a statement Sunday, arguing that the 200 percent fee increase Scripps seeks is too high, that Scripps could have allowed Cablevision to carry the channels during negotiations as a good faith gesture (as Fox did with TWC) and that Scripps' decision to pull the channels means that Food Network and HGTV are "effectively holding their own viewers hostage."

Scripps has issued its own statement, arguing that it has negotiated a fair market rate with every other cable and satellite provider in America, that Food Network is a top 10-rated basic cable network and therefore deserves a fee increase, that it's Cablevision that has refused to return to the bargaining table and that "it's Cablevision that's holding its customers hostage." (Inside TV sought comments from both Cablevision and Scripps; so far, Scripps has not responded, while Cablevision reiterated its public statement.)

Both sides have also tried to get consumers on their side. Cablevision subscribers tuning in to the vacant channels see only a white screen and hear an audio message saying Cablevision has "made a number of fair and reasonable proposals" that have all been rejected by Scripps, that Scripps has "dramatically changed their approach to working with distributors" and that "we are hopeful that Scripps will reconsider its decision" and restore the two channels.

For its part, Scripps has urged fans of its lifestyle shows to call 866-695-BEST or log onto iloveFoodNetwork.com and IloveHGTV.com to petition Cablevision for the restoration of the two channels. (Scripps claims the campaign has generated 120,000 phone calls and 35,000 e-cards since Jan. 1.) Visitors to those websites will see videos like the one below, a pep talk from blustery Food Network host/chef Guy Fieri.



Disputes like this one or TWC-vs.-Fox have shone a light on just how much cable subscribers are paying for various channels in their monthly packages. Fox, for instance was seeking $1.00 per subscriber per month; but industry experts believe its recent deal with TWC will earn much less than that. According to the New York Times, the biggest slice of your basic cable check goes to ESPN, which collects about $4.10 per subscriber, followed by Fox Sports at $2.37 and TNT a distant third at 96 cents. The Disney Channel, ESPN2, Fox News, NFL Network, and USA each get more than 50 cents. Most other channels receive nickels and dimes. At those rates, Food Network and HGTV fans might consider a combined 75 cents for both channels a bargain.

Still, as blog NewTeeVee points out, 'Iron Chef America' is not 'American Idol,' and unlike many Fox shows, Food Network and HGTV programs aren't available over the air or online. So Scripps is likely to have a harder time bringing Cablevision back to the table than Fox did with Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision customers who want those channels really have no place else to go. Unless Scripps' consumer campaign convinces Cablevision that it'll lose a good chunk of its subscriber base if it doesn't carry Food Network and HGTV, the cable provider will have little incentive to strike a deal, and it could be a long time before its subscribers see those channels again -- if ever.

UPDATE: Since this post was first published, Scripps Senior Vice President of Communications Cindy McConkey has spoken to Inside TV, and while she wouldn't specify the exact subscriber fees Scripps is asking for (or is currently receiving), she pointed to market research by industry analysts SNL Kagan that shows the Food Network typically receives 8 cents per subscriber and HGTV receives 13 cents. She said that Cablevision's claim of a demand for a 200 percent increase is misleading, that it applies only to the Food Network, not the combined rate for both channels. So, even if they were asking for triple what they're receiving now, as Cablevision claimed yesterday, that would be an increase of no more than 42 cents, for a total fee of 63 cents for both channels together; McConkey says the figure they're asking for is less than that. "We're going from pennies to dimes for both of these networks," she told Inside TV. She also pointed to the 2009 Beta Subscriber Study, which polled cable viewers and concluded that they would be willing to pay a combined $1.76 for both channels, far more than market average or what Scripps is seeking from Cablevision.

Cablevision has also since issued an updated statement, which reads, in part, "Scripps wants a $20 million rate increase, from Cablevision and our customers, that's not 'pennies.' as they claim. The channels where HGTV and Food Network appeared on Cablevision remain available, and if Scripps really cared about their viewers they would put their programming back on and negotiate a new agreement."

Inside TV spoke to a Cablevision source, who clarified that the statement's $20 million figure represents an annual increase. Doing our own math, Inside TV calculates that that comes out to about 54 cents more per subscriber per month, or at least 12 cents more than Scripps told us it was asking for.

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rina

you can watch HGTV and food network live on http://www.tv121.blogspot.com
its GREAT..!! Enjoyy

August 18 2010 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rina

Hey Guyzz you can watch HGTV and food network live on www.tv121.blogspot.com
its greattt..!! enjoy guyzz

August 18 2010 at 2:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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