Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Our First Day in Time Warner Land

It's been nearly 24 hours since Time Warner Cable took over the former Adelphia systems in Northeast Ohio, along with the Cleveland area's Comcast systems. And the changes nearly all seem to have settled in.

HDTV customers, while losing NFL Network, gained TNT-HD and the digital/HD feed of UPN/My Network TV affiliate WUAB/43. Thrown in with that, as well, is WUAB's "The Tube" music video subchannel.

By the way, we're noticing a lag between video and audio on upconverted SD programming on the digital/HD feed of WUAB, and from feedback, we're not the only ones. It makes "19 Action News at 10" look like a badly dubbed Japanese movie. We'd tend to blame Reserve Square on this one.

TWC's new lineup cards also indicate PBS affiliate WNEO/WEAO in HD, but the Kent-based public TV outlet has yet to return its HDTV feed to the air...so it's no surprise that it is not in the actual lineup yet.

On the new TWC systems' digital cable side, customers are also getting C-SPAN 3 and the youth-oriented Current, along with NBA TV. Like the HD side, NFL Network is also gone in the standard digital lineup.

But...now...with a message.

TWC's put up a banner on both channels 178 and 778, which the cable guide has helpfully renamed "TWCM" (message, we presume) and wiped out the NFL Network's guide information.

The banner is the latest indication that the cable operator is digging in its heels in a well-publicized dispute with the NFL Network.

"NFLGetReal.com" pushes subscribers to demand that the network accede to TWC's wish to put it on a special sports tier, where the cable operator could theoretically charge more to make up for whatever the network is charging...a higher per-subscriber fee reportedly in the 90 cent range.

It's the latest cable/TV industry "information" site - remember when Cox Cable locally started up the "MakeThemPlayFair.com" site when negotiations were bogging down with SportsTime Ohio?

On the other hand, the NFL Network folks aren't sitting idle, either.

Broadcasting and Cable reports that the NFL Network has filed with the Federal Communications Commission, asking the FCC to force TWC to rescind its removal of the channel late last night on systems it acquired from the two other operators.

The hook? The NFL says TWC violated a required 30 day notice in pulling the channels. Time Warner says the NFL Network's negotiating position meant the carriage was "beyond their control", and that gave them the out from the 30 day rule.

And instead of negotiating, the sports giant and the media giant are spending millions on advertising to position themselves. It doesn't make a lot of sense to us, especially when those millions may be used to, oh, we don't know, come to a better agreement...

Back in Cleveland, the Plain Dealer reports that TWC's introduction at a press conference - complete with Looney Tunes characters - promised $100 million in local improvements to the merged systems in the coming 18 months. We assume at least a large chunk of that will be involved in offering services such as Time Warner's "DigitalPhone" to the former Adelphia and Comcast customers...


Purple Raider said...

Good luck with Time Warner.

Anonymous said...

The folks at Time Warner appear to be jerks. The folks at NFL Network "are asking you to pay a premium price for eight out of market games you got for free last year"? The only people who want you to "pay a premium price for eight out of market games you got for free last year" by putting it on an expensive digital tier are Time Warner. And they want the people to vouch for them on it? They are great at confusing people, because they shore got me confused.

Anonymous said...

Time Warner sucks, they got rid of the NFL network and at least since I got up at 7 am the cable is out. These guys really need to get it together

Anonymous said...

I really can't understand why so many people continually sign-up for higher, outrageously-priced cable tiers. If they ever stopped to realize that many are paying between $700 and $1000 PER YEAR (!!) to receive some extra channels...and honestly, how many hours do folks actually sit there and watch them? This is the biggest rip-off since the whole concept of "car leasing" (you know, rent & pay for the car in 5 years, then give it back to the dealer to profit from AGAIN). When will the working-man wake up and stop forking over hard-earned cash for frivolous crap?

(Oh yeah, as long as you keep paying, they'll keep charging...even more and more.)

Scott said...

At least Adelphia people got new channels, Comcast lost 3-4 channels and gained nothing, no WUAB, no Tube, no ESPN2 HD, no anything. Add to that, I can't even get them to pick up my equipment to cancel, I call Comcast they tell me to call TWC, I call TWC, they tell me to call Comcast. Complete and utter mess. I hope 90% of the customers cancel and go to satellite.

Ohio Media Watch said...

In response to the last comment:

The "TWCusoon" site says their new customers should continue to call the old Customer Service lines. Don't call the TWC/NEO lines the people in Akron and Canton use.

In addition, they're keeping parts of the Adelphia website up and running solely to serve the customers who formerly used it, and even the former Comcast folks are being asked to use their website for stuff like online billing.


Anonymous said...

Dont think the NFL put the Browns/Steelers on NFL Net schedule on purpose ?

and won't the game also be offered to 'local TV' like the ESPN games the past few years.

Why is it that NFL Net pushing so hard? which would you rather receive monthly,
500,000 subs x 1.00/mo = 500,000
25,000 subs x 2.00/mo = 50,000

It not always the cable companies fault. the networks don't want tiered programming/pricing.

and no, I don't work for TWC but did for another cable entity 15 yrs ago when ESPN first got football and the per sub cost jumped 300%

Ohio Media Watch said...

All cable-only games, including the NFL's own NFL Network, are required to be offered locally over air in the two teams' home markets (one team if it's not sold out, which those games usually are, and all Browns games will be).

The Browns-Steelers tilt will be on WJW/8.

The NFL Network is not exactly shining light on this in their advertising campaign.


Scott said...

Ok, this is ridiculous. I turn on the old Comcast guide, of course it has the Time Warner logo, but now it has ads covering up the bottom of the guide so you can only see a few shows at a time. When you scroll through to look for shows, if you click enter, you click on the ads now. Time Warner is ruining my cable.