Stakes are rising with CBS NFL opener and U.S. Open finals a week away
Four weeks into the Time Warner Cable-CBS blackout, neither side is budging publicly, with the real test expected next week, when the U.S. Open tennis finals and NFL football get underway.
CBS and TWC are battling over retransmission fees for network and Showtime programming in several major markets. Golf fans in three blacked to major markets — New York, Dallas and Los Angeles — already lost their opportunity to watch the PGA Championship earlier this month.
But the stakes are rising considerably with the U.S. Open tennis finals and kickoff to NFL season a week from Sunday.
CBS is blacked out is New York City, where the tennis tournament is underway in Queens. Early coverage has been airing on ESPN2, the Tennis Channel and CBS, but the women's final will solely air on CBS 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 8.
The same day, New York Jets kick off its — and the network's — NFL season the same day 1 p.m. ET.
The network also has the New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos game — which will pit brothers Peyton and Eli Manning against each other — on Sep. 15.
"Clearly the big event sports programming coming these next few weeks will put more pressure on [Time Warner Cable]," a network insider told TheWrap.
It's not clear how many subscribers have jumped ship during the blackout — Time Warner Cable isn't divulging numbers — but there are indications some customers may be voting with their feet. Verizon Fios has reported an increase in subscribers and Radio Shack has seen a strong demand for TV antennas.
Time Warner Cable said customers have been staying put since the Aug. 2 blackout went into effect.
"By and large, our customers understand that switching is not the answer, that sooner or later all other providers will face the same type of situation," a spokesperson for Time Warner Cable told TheWrap. "At this point, while we continue to take some questions, the vast majority of customers who have called have not disconnected."
An official announcement of those reprucussions will likely not come until the cable company's November earnings call.
Beyond big sports events, pressure from the FCC could breach the impasse from the two parties.
One industry insider suggested that lack of news was a good sign. "I've heard nothing new," the insider said, which "usually signals that talks may be getting serious."
CBS Sports is conducting a conference call about "The NFL on CBS" Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET. Expect more posturing then if the network has not come to terms with TWC by then.