By Ivan G. Goldman
With the blackout standoff between CBS and Time Warner Cable extending into its fourth day, the possibility grows that for three million cable subscribers a blank screen will substitute for the Showtime pay-per-view telecast of the Sept. 14 Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez super-event. Showtime is a key component of the CBS empire. So plan ahead now.
The first boxing show threatened is the Aug. 24 Showtime card from Carson, Calif. headlined by Abner Mares versus Jhonny Gonzalez for Mares’ WBC featherweight title. Also on the card is Victor Terrazas versus Leo Santa Cruz, for Terrazas’ WBC junior featherweight title. Both shows are promoted by Golden Boy.
Boxing sites elsewhere around the Web have ignored this story. Golden Boy Promotions is also whistling in the dark. That’s their mistake. The intrepid BoxingInsider.com will keep following these events that threaten what up until now looked to be the biggest-money pay-per-view boxing show in history. Industry analysts are already predicting that fools on both sides of the dispute could make this thing go on a long, long time. Or maybe not.
CBS and Time Warner executives are feuding very openly, releasing correspondence and calling each other names. There are lots of bruised egos and much chest-beating going on by spoiled dweebs who ride around in limos and private jets.
It’s “conceivable that they will never come to an agreement,” says Los Angeles Times TV critic Robert Lloyd. And ABC, a keen competitor of CBS, observes that this thing could last for “weeks.” How many? Your guess is as good as ABC’s. And when it’s over, writes Loyd, “possibly your cable bill will be a little higher.”
A nameless, outraged L.A. Times editorialist, presumably missing some crappy CBS show he or she follows with great care, wrote that “if this battle drags on over blacked-out channels, cable viewers will adapt and find other outlets. So our advice to Time Warner and CBS is to agree to a compromise, fast — before cable viewers go elsewhere for good.”
Cities Time Warner has cut off from CBS and Showtime programming include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Denver.
Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt sent a letter to CBS Monday in which he tried to tap out, but CBS just tightened up on its chokehold. Britt’s letter outlined proposals under which his company would resume carrying the CBS-owned channels. But CBS called his letter “an empty gesture from a company that is expert at them.”
And Time Warner calls CBS demands “outrageous.” So it goes.
Basically, CBS wants Time Warner to pay much more for the right to keep delivering its channels to subscribers. Trying to choose sides between these two mighty global corporations is like deciding between the thumbscrew and the rack, but I lean toward bloodsucking Time Warner over bloodsucking CBS. The more money CBS extracts from Time Warner, the more money Time Warner will extract from its subscribers.
At this point, our best hope for a truce is the football season. Serious, serious money will be lost if CBS telecasts of SEC (The network carries the most popular college conference) and NFL games get tossed onto the garbage pile.
If you are affected by the blackout you have other options. For example, you could turn to Verizon FIOS or DirectTV to deliver your Showtime programming. Be advised that DirectTV is one of the most complained about corporations in America. The Better Business Bureau awarded it an ‘F’ rating after processing more than 41,000 complaints against it in a space of three years.
Fathom Events will provide closed circuit showings of the Mayweather-Alvarez card on big screens at venues around the country. Lastly, as many readers have noted, if your conscience allows it, sometimes you can look around and find extralegal streaming on the Web.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in June 2013 by Potomac Books. It can be purchased here.