Thursday, December 31, 2009

TWC and Fox in the new year

As of this writing it appears that the game of chicken that Time Warner Cable and News Corp have been playing is likely to end up with the two splatting into each other at high speed. News Corp wants more cash for carrying its popular TV programming, including US college football bowls and sitcoms such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Time Warner Cable (now independent of parent Time Warner) claims it would have to pass along $1 per subscriber and is leery of setting a precedent that the other major TV networks could then use to their advantage.

So far there has been no agreement and there's every possibility that Fox channels such as FX, Speed, Fuel and Fox Soccer Channel -- but not Fox News or Fox Business, which have separate contracts -- could simply go dark to TWC subscribers at midnight tonight.

So what does this have to do with the web? For one thing, TWC is also a major ISP (full disclosure: they're mine, in particular). For another thing, Hulu (part-owned by Fox) will be happy to show you Sunny and other FX shows (not sure about the sports), whether over TWC's pipe or someone else's. That's particularly interesting since Hulu is supported by ads, and declining ad revenue is one of the reasons Fox wants to charge cable companies like TWC more. Another might possibly be that Fox wouldn't mind cable subscribers dumping cable in favor of an online service Fox has a piece of.


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