Time Warner Cable CEO Says It’s Time To Thin The Cable Channel Herd

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt has made no secret of his distaste for the bundles of channels his and other cable companies are forced to accept in order to carry the few channels that customers actually watch. Now, says Britt, it’s time to actually do something about it.

Speaking at investor conference earlier today, Britt declared that as contracts come up for renewal, TWC will review each one thoroughly and drop those channels that “cost too much relative to the value of the service.”

“We’ve accumulated networks that hardly anybody watches,” he told the investors, per the Wall Street Journal. “We can’t keep carrying these giant packages… with services that don’t carry their weight.”

TWC and the other cable/satellite carriers have all been involved in rather public fights with broadcasters in recent years, as content producers seek to charge more for the most viewed channels but require carriers to pay for marginal channels with low viewership.

Perhaps the most notorious fight in recent months was between Dish and AMC Networks. While AMC itself shows relatively high-rated (and certainly acclaimed) shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the satellite company didn’t want to accept AMC’s full bundle of channels, which includes low-rated channels like IFC, Sundance Channel, and WE tv. In the end, this led to the two parties severing ties — and plenty of Dish customers turning to Netflix and other sources to watch The Walking Dead.

Britt, who says the real threat to the cable industry right now is that the increase in the cost of programming packages is outpacing economic growth, says that when it comes to these underperforming channels, there will be a “different kind of conversation… than we had with them five to six years ago.”

Earlier this year, Britt declared, “There are too many networks… There are a lot of general-interest networks that have lower viewership, and the industry would take cost out of the system if they shut those networks down and offered lower prices to consumers… The companies involved would make just as much money as they do now because of the costs.”