/// Billions! Cablevision Takes Its Second Swing at Viacom in Bundling-Breaking Fight.

March 7, 2013  |  All Things Digital


Here’s the next step in the Cablevision/Viacom cable bundling fee fight : After back and forth between the two companies about which stuff they want to keep private, they have released a public version of Cablevision’s legal complaint. Scintillating, right? This isn’t the equivalent of the Viacom/Google data dump, where people like me got to wallow in all kinds of juicy notes, emails and spreadsheets that had previously been private. Instead, this is just a more formalized version of the argument Cablevision made last week, when it said Viacom had illegally forced it to take lots of crappy Viacom channels in order to get the ones it really wanted, like MTV and Comedy Central. You can read the whole thing, and/or peruse a highlight compilation the pay TV provider put together, at the bottom of this post. The one really interesting part in here should be where Cablevision explains just how much more expensive it is for them to buy a handful of channels instead of taking the whole package. Their contention is that while Viacom theoretically offers its channels to distributors on an a la carte basis, it charges so much for them that there’s no practical way anyone would do that, because it’s much cheaper to take the bundle. That is, it’s a choice without a choice. But at Viacom’s request, all the pricing information has been redacted from the complaint. So Cablevision can only say that the price difference between Viacom’s a la carte option and the bundle is something between $1 billion and $9 billion, and that that number is “more than Cablevision’s entire programming budget” for 2013. That sounds pretty eye-popping. But without a full look at the numbers it’s hard to place that in proper context. For starters, the price difference would apply to the length of the contract, and while I think even the length of the deal may be redacted, it is almost certainly five years or more. So whatever the price difference is, you’d need to divide it by five, or seven, or whatever, to figure out what it would actually mean to Cablevision

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Billions! Cablevision Takes Its Second Swing at Viacom in Bundling-Breaking Fight.


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