Time Warner Cable Dropping Ovation: Is It Sports vs. Arts?

Ovation makes an emotional appeal that TWC dismisses as untrue

The arts-minded Ovation network says it is being dropped by Time Warner Cable at the end of the year, in part because the cable giant would rather spend money on sports than the arts.

The announcement is meant to stir objections from fans of the channel, which features dance, theater, visual arts, film and music. Ovation makes the emotionally loaded argument that TWC is investing heavily in sports programming while allowing their carriage agreement to expire Dec. 31.

But TWC, which confirms it is cutting Ovation, says the network is underperforming — and that Ovation doesn't air as much arts programming as it claims.

Ovation has gone from 5 to 51 million homes in six years, it said. If it exits TWC, subscribers will miss out on programs including "Song by Song" and "A Chance to Dance."

“Our plan has been to grow Ovation as fast as possible in all key metrics,” said Ovation CEO Charles Segars. “In a few short years since taking over the network, we have achieved that plan. Ovation is the fourth fastest-growing network and I am confident this arts-centric team will continue to post impressive gains in distribution, advertising and ratings throughout the New Year.”

Added Brad Samuels, Ovation's executive vice president of content distribution: "While they are investing huge amounts in sports programming, they’ve chosen to limit their customers’ viewing options by cutting the only arts network in their lineup."

But TWC says in a statement that Ovation is "among the poorest performing networks, and is viewed by less than 1 percent of our customers on any given day."

"We’ve paid more than $10 million in carriage fees to Ovation over the past several years. They’ve had ample opportunity to improve the ratings and the content, and have failed to deliver," TWC added. 

"Also, they claim to be an arts channel but a quick look at their lineup indicates that most of their programming is not. An analysis of Ovation’s programming shows that it’s not a channel devoted to the arts. One seven-day period in November 2012 shows that 70 percent of their schedule was old movies that are repeated, numerous repeats of the PBS show 'Antique Road Show,' Infomercials that are unrelated to the arts, and repeats of TV shows from broadcast networks."