It was bound to happen. When the CBS-Time Warner Cable dispute began last month, conventional thinking was that it would get resolved before the NFL regular season began. That's exactly what occured on Monday. Both companies announced an agreement that would return CBS-owned local stations to Time Warner systems in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York and in other markets across the country. In addition, Showtime and Smithsonian Network would be restored to their place in the lineup.
So what happened? Why did the agreement happen now? As the NFL season got closer, CBS gained more and more leverage. Knowing that football fans in all three markets would begin to blame Time Warner if the dispute ever reached NFL Opening Day, the two sides worked feverishly to get a deal done. CBS had been seeking a fee of close to $2 per subscriber. Reports in several outlets say CBS did not reach their desired price, but did receive a significant increase from its previous fee of 80 cents.
Time Warner did receive some concessions from CBS, but not as much as it was seeking.
Subcribers who were fearful of losing NFL games won't have to worry any longer. But there is no guarantee that something like this won't happen again and there is another potential dispute looming. This one could have huge ramifications for cable and satellite providers. ESPN's contract with Dish expires this month. The increases ESPN is seeking could reach as much as $8 per subscriber. Yes, the network-TV provider merry-go-round is about to start up again and there is no end in sight.