CBS and Showtime are headed back to Time Warner Cable.
The networks and the cable giant ended their acrimonious standoff Monday after nearly a month of darkness in major markets including New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas. Service should be back by 3 p.m Monday, Sept. 2, the two sides said in a news release.
The agreement is good news for fans of the NFL with CBS set to begin its pro football broadcasts next weekend. Neither side said as much in the announcement, but it’s certain the onset of the enormously popular season was a motivating factor in the deal.
The blackout went into effect Friday Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. ET — the first time CBS and Showtime allowed their signal to go dark during a retransmission dispute. It affected 3.5 million homes — nearly a third of Time Warner Cable’s subscribers.
The sides had grappled over a handful of issues, and at one point had hammered out agreeable terms on fees — but negotiations got hung up in CBS’ apparent refusal to make its digital assets free to TWC customers. TWC then proposed offering CBS on an “a la carte” basis to cable customers; the network scoffed at the idea.
“We’re pleased to be able to restore CBS programming for our customers, and appreciate their patience and loyalty throughout the dispute” Glenn Britt, Time Warner Cable’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “As in all of our negotiations, we wanted to hold down costs and retain our ability to deliver a great video experience for our customers. While we certainly didn’t get everything we wanted, ultimately we ended up in a much better place than when we started.”
TMC, FLIX and Smithsonian also went down in the failed negotiations that began after a 2009 agreement expired at the end of June. The deadline was originally July 24, was pushed several times. Other areas affected by the shutdown included Boston, Tampa, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, San Diego, Columbus, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Austin and Detroit, among many others.
The sides exchanged a flurry of barbed press releases as the deadline flew past and beyond, with TWC accusing CBS of refusing to engage in “productive discussion” and “not willing to come to reasonable terms.” CBS maintained that it was vastly underpaid for the bulk of viewers it brings.
“This was a far more protracted dispute than anyone at CBS anticipated,” CBS Presdent Leslie Moonves said in a memo sent to his staff Monday, “but in spite of the pain it caused to all of us, and most importantly the inconvenience to our viewers who were affected, it was an important one, and one worth pursuing to a satisfactory conclusion. That has been achieved.
“The final agreements with Time Warner Cable deliver to us all the value and terms that we sought in these discussions. We are receiving fair compensation for CBS content and we also have the ability to monetize our content going forward on all the new, developing platforms that are right now transforming the way people watch television. ”
Acting Federal Communications Commttee Chairwoman Mignon L. issued a statement applauding the settlement:
“I am pleased CBS and Time Warner Cable have resolved their retransmission consent negotiations, which for too long have deprived millions of consumers of access to CBS programming. At the end of the day, media companies should accept shared responsibility for putting their audience’s interests above other interests and do all they can to avoid these kinds of disputes in the future.”
For the record: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the networks would be restored to Time Warner Cable by 3 p.m. ET Sunday. It will be restored at 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2.