Customers of Time Warner Cable may consider themselves the victors in the battle between their cable operator and the Fox network. After all, the two sides came to a last-minute agreement on New Year’s Day guaranteeing that TWC customers will still be able to catch up with Homer Simpson, Walter Bishop and Jack Bauer. But guess who’s gonna pay for that? Here’s a hint: It’s not Rupert.
As the New York Times points out, the deal between the two companies means that TWC will pay Fox some tidy new fees to carry the channel, and will pass those along to customers. Or rather, TWC has already handed the bill to subscribers:
The high-stakes deal reflected the scramble by media companies to reduce their dependence on advertising. Something else also happened that day: Time Warner Cable put another rate increase into effect.
It will not be the last time. Along with Fox, other broadcasters say they deserve a share of the cable and satellite bills that roughly 100 million American households pay each month. At the same time, the cable-only channels that have lured viewers away from broadcast, with shows like “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “The Closer,” are lining up for further fee increases.
That’s right, cable customers. If $75 a month — the average monthly fee paid by digital cable subscribers — isn’t high enough for you, it won’t be long before the next rate increase comes along. And, this time, instead of paying for “exclusive” cable-only programming, you’ll be handing over the extra cash for broadcast channels like Fox that you can get for free over the air. But Fox, Disney and the other owners of broadcast channels are counting on your willingness to keep paying them every month, instead of breaking out the rabbit ears and watching them for free. Want to prove them wrong? Here’s a good place to start.