CBS’s Under the Dome is typical summer network TV junk food — it might not be up to standards of great shows, but it’s on and it will do until the fall season starts up in a few weeks, so people are watching it. Now that Time Warner Cable customers in the nation’s two largest markets and several others can no longer watch the weekly goings-on of the trapped residents of Chester’s Mill, Maine, viewers are going to the Internet to get their fix.
The folks at TorrentFreak looked at the download rates of the most recent episodes of Under the Dome for people in affected markets like L.A., NYC, and Dallas.
Before the blackout, when people could get the show on TV rather easily, about 10.9% of downloads were from the markets affected by the TWC blackouts. Since TWC and CBS stopped talking to each other last Friday, that jumped to 14.6% of all Under the Dome downloads in the U.S., a 34% jump in just a week.
Downloaders in NYC more than doubled. Before the blackout, they only accounted for 1.3% of Dome downloads. Post-blackout that surged to 3%.
It’s possible this is just a fluke — maybe more people just really wanted to watch Norrie and Joe walk around holding hands and theorizing about the dome, or see if poor Angie could manage to get re-re-re-kidnapped. If the blackout persists, TorrentFreak will be able to look at the long-term impact of the blackout on illegal downloads; it it ends, the world may never know…
In other TWC blackout-related news, the cable company announced earlier this week that there are other big-time blackout possibilities on the horizon, including basic cable faves like Lifetime, E!, Style, Turner Classic Movies, and the NHL Network.
On Tuesday, Sen. Ed “Biz” Markey of Massachusetts wrote a letter to Acting FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn asking her to please intervene on behalf of consumers in this blackout.
“I make no representations as to the merits of either side’s position, as they are contractual discussions between private parties,” wrote Markey. “Nevertheless, I encourage both parties to remain engaged in good faith negotiations, and I also request that the Commission take action to bring the parties together so these negotiations can be concluded in an equitable and expeditious manner. I believe the public interest would be best served if carriage is restored by the parties at the earliest possible time so that consumers are not long caught in the middle.”
Markey took particular concern with CBS’s decision to block freely available CBS.com to all TWC customers, regardless of whether they are TWC cable customers are not. In addition to people who only want Internet access, many DirecTV and Dish customers in the affected markets use TWC as their Internet provider but not for anything TV-related.
“A consumer’s choice of cable television provider should not be tied to her ability to access Internet content that is freely available to other consumers,” wrote Markey. “In such instances, consumers lose their freedom to access the Internet content of their choice. This is an anti-consumer result that I urge the Commission to investigate, and I encourage the Commission to actively defend Internet freedom and consumer rights.”