Friday, January 1, 2010
Hey, at least you still have Fox. Sure, I’m watching a ton of bowl games today, but I’m also watching Cablevision’s pending PR disaster unfold.
To recap: Cablevision subscribers like moi woke up New Year’s Day to find that the Food Network and HGTV were no longer available. The parent company of the two networks, Scripps, claims Cablevision was underpaying for the right to carry the shows.
(Read Scripps’ full statement here.)
For their part, Cablevision’s side basically gives Scripps a Paula Dean “Bless your heart!” Scripps returned fire later in the day, with Food Network and HGTV subsequently weighing in.
He Said, She Said now in full effect.
Reading into Scripps’ statement, you might have to give Cablevision a tiny bit of cred for not passing on a rate hike to subscribers for carrying the shows. So don’t hate—Cablevision’s saving you money!
Okay, tongue in cheek, middle finger extended, as a customer, I can’t help but feel ripped off. Legally, I suppose they’ll say they’re covered with the statement at the bottom of their website:
“©Copyright CSC Holdings Inc. Pricing, terms and offerings subject to change and discontinuance without notice.”
Sure that legal disclaimer says they can change anything at will, but signing up for a cable or dish subscription knowing ahead of time that certain channels aren’t available is one thing.
It’s another when they offer channels before you sign up without mentioning possible contract issues which might jeopardize service four months after subscribing. (Oh hey, look, that’s my scenario!)
That’s sorta like a realtor forgetting to mention the ghost problem in the attic.
Yes, it’s unrealistic to expect consumers to know all the ins and outs of distribution deals that go on all the time behind the scenes, but no legal disclaimer can hide the fact that Cablevision pulled a fast one.
If the FCC or FTC regulate what we watch, listen to or buy, then I can see one consumer regulation which needs to be put in place here moving forward:
I better get what you advertised and what I signed up for.
So, while this is about money, yes, Cablevision and Scripps are going to find out soon enough just how much when customers switch providers. Read the net kids, read the net. Just look at the Twitter and Google streams in the lower left sidebar here. Unhappy campers FTW! The kind who vote with their ATM card.
A typical response on Twitter goes like this:
“Boo. HGTV and Food Network were taken of my cable lineup. Might as well cancel cable.”
Then there’s more friendly responses like this.
See, one thing that Twitter et al. has allowed people now is this rush to judgement after they rush to their keyboard when brands fail them. The back and forth finger pointing from Scripps and Cablevision?
Doesn’t matter, because to customers, they’re both to blame.
Both companies seem to forget however that for many people, the only reason they GOT Cablevision in the first place was because of those two networks—and people would pay anything just to have those shows.
Even if a rate hike gets passed on down the line to subscribers like yet another hidden fee, people will pay—because they always do. As long as their channel is available. That’s what I don’t get here. People will pay, but you don’t offer it?
Look, if the difference between what Scripps says Cablevision should pay and what they’re actually paying is approximately $1.50, then raise monthly rates accordingly and let people opt-out if they refuse the hike.
But don’t just cut them off without giving them a choice.
That’s the thing with weekend warriors and foodies: You got them hooked, then you cut off their supply of crack. Think Verizon and Dish Network might be fielding a few new calls for sign-ups this week?
Then there’s the social media freaks everywhere (like moi), who’ll whip out their keyboards and bang away on this latest case study in brand FAIL. There’s a lot wrong here though to be sure, not the least of which will be the fallout for Cablevision over the next few weeks.
Thing is, I don’t think Cablevision and owner Dolan care. (They’ve had their past issues with YES and Yankee broadcasts, and unhappy customers come with the job.) Which touches on another issue:
We just keep switching between brands who we hate less than the others who screw us over—and companies know it.
Ultimately, Cablevision had to have anticipated losing subscribers. Problem is, it’s not easy for me to switch. I’ve had trouble with the dish and Vios is not available in the area. The only other provider? AT&T.
Since I do have “other” choices, I suppose Cablevision doesn’t have a monopoly—technically. But when those “other” choices suck more than what you have, what’s a consuma ta do!
Maybe some fan of either channel who’s also *wink, wink* a practicing attorney should start a class action suit here. Don’t laugh: One fan sued the NFL to allow it to offer individual game packages through Dish Network’s Sunday Ticket and won.
Still, I don’t blame just Cablevision here: Scripps is apparently the one who wants more money. For their part while the parents fight, brother and sister (Food Network and HGTV), are siding with mom and asking people to call Cablevision at 866-695-BEST and voice their displeasure. Or visit iloveFOODNETWORK.com and ilovehgtv.com to bitch and moan.
(Until the two channels come back, both sites offer episodes online, and Food Network allows you to watch through their app. Otherwise, get your Paula fix here. For the home improvement crowd, enjoy this little gem from SNL.)
Thing is, even though both sides have made it my problem with this little stunt, it’s not my problem they can’t figure out what to charge what the program is worth.
Not that it matters. We’ll switch—and then end up switching back when Dish Network screws it up.
Posted 2:15 PM