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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Would You Pay Extra For Big Ten, NFL Networks?

So here's the deal: If you're a Time Warner Cable customer, would you be willing to pay extra for the Big Ten Network or NFL Network?

News that Northern Kentucky's Insight cable system has picked up the Big Ten Network -- in addition to having the NFL Network already -- probably will prompt (again) a lot of Time Warner bashing on this blog. Before that happens, I'd like to frame the conversation in another way:

Time Warner says it wants the Big Ten Network and NFL Network as an extra-pay digital sports tier, so just the sports fans -- not all customers -- pay for it. Sort of like those who buy the Major League Baseball or the NHL packages.

Yes, I know that Insight has placed the Big Ten Network and NFL on a standard digital tier, not a special sports-only tier. But Time Warner's corporate stance is that the company wants them on an extra-pay sports tier... and that doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.

So if you're a TWC subscriber, would you be willing to pay extra for the NFL/Big Ten channels? No? Yes? How much more a month? And if TWC sticks to its guns on this one, are you a big enough NFL/Big Ten fan to switch to satellite to get those channels?

Tell me about it.


at 8/29/2007 6:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

They both need to compromise. I've threatened to switch since the ESPNU blockade last year but can't find anyone to swear by DirecTV. You had to see this coming with the stake Fox has in the Big Ten Network.

I'd pay $10 a month to get both networks.

at 8/29/2007 6:52 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, I'm happy to pay extra for NFL and Big Ten. While they're at it, TWC can give me a corresponding credit for the 200 crap channels I never watch.

at 8/29/2007 7:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I would not pay for the Big 10 network. I would consider paying for the NFL network if it were reasonably priced.

However, I feel all the channels should be a la carte. I have over 100 channels and watch about 15 of them. I wish I could only pay for what I want. It's like socialism for tv channels.

at 8/29/2007 7:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be willing to pay for the sports tier on TW for BTN and the other regional sports nets.

I know I am in the minority, but I agree with TW not wanting to force the BTN charge on everyone. Outside of a couple OSU football games most of the programming will be second rate teams that don't get picked up by ABC/ESPN. This is just a power play by a conference commisioner who is looking to make an extra buck.

However, I do wish that TW would get on board with the FSN HD Reds games.

at 8/29/2007 8:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont care if i have the networks or not but if they as in tw would charge say 5 bucks or so a month for the channels i probably would subscribe

at 8/29/2007 8:12 PM Blogger vanillacokehead said...

I would pay for NFLN and B10N on a digital sports tier - but in this case I side with Time Warner (I live in Akron, which is served by them).

I agree with their stand that everyone shouldn't have to pay for these two channels unless they want them - and I don't think it's fair saddling everyone else with the charges these two nets are asking for by putting it on an "expanded basic" tier.

From what little I've seen of NFLN, I don't think I'm missing much. As for B10N, I'm not terribly encouraged yet. I think the folks who own these two nets have an inflated sense of importance of the product on these two networks - and I think they need to come down on their per-sub cost quite a bit.

at 8/29/2007 9:07 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, we would have been willing to pay extra for Big Ten and NFL Network - but TWC doesn't give us that chance. So, we have already switched to DirecTV, and are looking forward to these two additional channels (as well as the NFL Ticket) with a monthly bill that is about $40 less per month. I know, we are on a special promotional period - but even at full price, we will be $20 less per month than TWC. This is just the beginning of these specialized college sports channels, the Big 12 and SEC are in the works.

at 8/29/2007 9:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have presently have TWC and no, I am not planning on switching. I am to comfortable with what I have and what I know. I have heard pro's and cons on satellite.

Yes, I would pay for the NFL and the Big 10. I would hope they would offer it as a package deal and I would be willing to pay $120 a year for both. That averages to about $5 a month per channel.

I for one, can see both points of view; from the TWC and from the consumer regarding the Big 10. What happens when each and every conference comes up with their own channel (it will happen)? It would be never ending to try and find a spot on the lineup for that, with a small minority wanting their respective conference and you would not and could not make everyone happy. Making it a pay-per channel thing makes more sense.

But with the NFL Network, TWC is dead wrong. The network has respectable programming and should be available on the basic digital tier.

Insight might not be the big dog in town, but they are the more respected product at this point. TWC needs to take a page in listening to their consumers and quit making excuses.

at 8/29/2007 9:24 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO!!! No!! AND NO! Why should I pay for something I won't watch! Stick in on the sports tier and make people that want to watch it pay for it.

Could that be done and still keep the cost down though?

at 8/30/2007 8:55 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Presently I pay about $3 a month for the sports tier on Time Warner. I get several regional Fox Sports channels, the Tennis Channel, NBA TV, College Sports TV & maybe a racing channel. Its worth it to me. I suppose I'd pay another couple bucks a month for Big 10 & NFL, though those would be totally seasonal channels. Can you imagine paying extra for the crap those channels will show in July?

at 8/30/2007 9:16 AM Anonymous Alan said...

Time Warner Cable is loosing customers left and right. Their prices are high and their customer service is poor. I switched to DirecTV almost 3 months ago. My bill went down considerably. Even after the promotion ends I'm still paying almost $25 less than what TWC was charging me. Oh, and yes I get the Big 10 network, NFL, and soon nearly 100 HD channels. Yes, I realize it's a pain to switch things. Yes, you have to have someone come install the dish. And you may need to invest in some equipment if you don't choose to lease. But I can offer readers this insight. In 3 months I've had no service outtages (Even during the few storms we have had), my digital picture is wonderful, and my DVR has yet to fail on me like TWC's did. I'm not trying to make this a commercial for DirectTV but I think Time Warner is a greedy company that fails to look out for it's customers best interests.

at 8/30/2007 10:01 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also siding with TW on this ONE instance. OK make it two if you add ESPNU to the mix. Those networks are trying to strong arm the cable companies, not just TW. Like Kies said, DirectTV's owners have a stake in the new BTN. I do not like the fact that they try to hide a few games on their networks and then make the cable companies look like the bad guys. The networks are trying to open the purse-strings of the cable comapanies, which will be at the expense of the consumers and it is wrong. I hope TW does not give in, even though I desire to have those channels.

at 8/30/2007 10:34 AM Blogger Joshua said...

To Alan 9:16a: Be aware that it's actually the CAPACITY to carry 100-150 HD Channels. There aren't that many out there now, nor will there be by the end of the year. That's why you don't see the commercial anymore -- it was misleading and they got sued because of it.

Most cable companies could theoretically carry that many HD channels by rearranging bandwidth from analog channels, and will probably do so in the coming years. Until those channels exist, they'll keep the analog channels there to satisfy the folks who don't want to upgrade to digital.

If you do some internet searching, you'll find a few articles of the networks DirecTV is claiming to have in the pipes. Most are popular networks that are launching HD counterparts in the next few months....but there's no more than 15-20 of them. DirecTV is also claiming all of their HD PPV Sports events as separate channels in their HD channel count.

Just do some research folks, you'll usually find most companies like to hide the smaller details from you.

at 8/30/2007 11:48 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiese, Speaking on sports...
What happened to the Blitz on 5. It has some lame name now. Also, the Sportsrush usually starts with the games at Nippert. I tuned in and saw the Zone this week on Channel 9. Will it start this week?

at 8/30/2007 1:06 PM Blogger SophiaZ123 said...

For folks HAPPY with Dish or Direct, Bless you.

I have heard many, MANY pros and cons and after a year or two of headaches, folks switch back to their cable (across the country, not just here)

I know a guy that hated the cable troubles so much, that when he moved he wanted satellite. Well the cable guy still showed up the same day as the Dish guy. So DISH got put in and after losing stations and outages, he switched to DIRECT..he said he would let me know in a few months if he goes back to cable.

Oh, this is in Atlanta. Ice and snow storms are HORRIBLE around here and the customer service WILL tell you to "clean the ice of the dish to see the signal" ?????

Frankly, I would love to get ala carte cable. This being forced higher fees as they take away channels (Outdoor channel which had some car races, game show channel (which some elderly liked as they showed the old stuf, or used to) and now lost ESPN CLASSIC which carries IRL and NASCAR when the other crappy ESPN is showing Bingo or I kid you not, Scrabble tournaments.

Now Classic is DIGITAL TIER.

I also did not know 25 per cent of the cable fees go to ESPN who STINK with their hype and tabloid talking heads that looked like they stepped out of the make up booth. I HATE watching racing on these stations.

PRetty soon all sports is going to be a "niche" network and nobody will be able to enjoy anything.

I still think it STINKS you can't watch the Reds on opening Day or any other time with cable tho I don't watch them anymore.

This SPECIAL TIER crap is getting out of hand.

Oh, I know a lady that works in the vet office near employeed got the SPECIAL DEAL with one of the satellite deals, cheaper at first and by the time it was over, she had LESS channels and was paying more than she did on TW and was going to switch back when the fricking CONTRACT RAN OUT????

Penalty for dropping satellite.

So thats my rant, er, two cents on THIS TOPIC.

TW is the devil we know at least.


at 8/30/2007 1:53 PM Anonymous Bearman said...

My problem with the NFL network is simple. Why should we even be concerned with their carriage deal when they continually do exclusive deals with DirecTV for Sunday Ticket. Where's the love for the cable football fans then?

Big10 wants to charge something like $1 a sub in Ohio. I think the Enquirer said Time Warner in this area has about 600,000 customers. So just in our area they want $7.2 million. Why not offer it for free to Time Warner and not give them as much ad space and if the viewership is what the Big10 execs say it will be, they will more than make up for it.

at 8/30/2007 3:58 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Sophia, - Please, quit trying to serve us the TW Kool-Aid. We're not drinking it.

I'm a five year DirecTV customer in Springboro. I've never once lost my signal in winter. I've lost signal eight times due to rain. Only once for more than five minutes.

I've run the numbers. Cost per channel. Not counting the wasted music channels used to run up the total. DirecTV comes out a far better value than TW and Dish. Both sat systems beat TW.

Far better customer service. Far fewer outages. Far less money spent. You couldn't pay me to return to TW for anything other than 'net. And if AT&T would get off their sorry backsides, I'd dump TW's overpriced broadband for DSL.

at 8/30/2007 4:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it should absolutely be on a sports tier (I have TW and do subscribe to the sports tier), but where I question this is in the hypocracy of TW. They are "fighting" for us because they don't want us to have to pay for networks we don't watch, but on the other hand I have to pay for hundreds of channels I don't watch. I know they lobby congress hard to not make a la carte cable law.

at 8/30/2007 5:18 PM Anonymous Bearman said...

John what ever happened to Cincinnati Bell getting into video services in the area. (and I don't mean reselling Directv) It was big news several years ago and yet they still have nothing in place while AT&T and Verizon are pushing video in many of their markets.

at 8/30/2007 6:18 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, if people have to pay extra for sports, why don't others that enjoy home shopping channels or the Food network that I could care less about pay a little more? Obviously, it won't happen. So, why not go to ala carte channel selection. Everyone pays one rate and gets the channels they WANT?

at 8/30/2007 7:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


You know that if TW had the ownership interest, both of those networks would be on yesterday. They only play the "limited audience" card when they don't want to carry the channel.

The argument will go on forever concerning satellite vs cable, but Directv has been more proactive in recent years in introducing new services, even ones they do not own.

One other thing the cable networks are not telling you: Big Ten is offering them local ad avail time that they can sell and recoup much of the fee charged to them. Don't believe all of the high cost stuff. It is all a negotiation.

at 8/30/2007 7:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

the question i have and probably alot of you have is what ind of fees are the networks wanting for being carried on cable i mean dos the nfln want 1 buck from each subscriber or what i mean let the public ie the people who pay the money let us know what the total costs are and then lets have a group decision ok

at 8/30/2007 9:13 PM Blogger Aviator said...

It is TWC chance to once again "stick it to the man." We already pay way too much for the crap service that we get. And we only watch a handful of the stations for which we are paying through the nose! If I could only convince my better half, we would have had a satellite years ago. Down with TWC!

at 8/31/2007 11:32 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should I pay more for these channels when I don't have to "pay more" for We? Or Lifetime? Or any other special interest channel? Point is, sure we all end up paying for these add on channels in the long run ($2 or $4 rate increase from time to time) as they add other channels. TWC is off base with their arguments. It's just too bad a majority of TV viewers' IQ's are lower than dirt and unable to grasp the issues.

at 8/31/2007 12:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I herd that Sportsrush was cancled by Channel 9.

at 8/31/2007 9:42 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have DIRECTV, so I don't have to pay extra for the Big Ten Network. All you people still on cable - GET A CLUE AND SWITCH!!!! Better products, better customer service, and cheaper prices!!!

at 9/02/2007 8:41 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what I want:

I want TWC to can the shopping and fairy tale...err...religion channels and give me something good to watch. Let the unwashed masses pay for their preachin and shoppin if they want.

at 9/03/2007 9:19 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first, I thought I would pay TWC for the network. After this past week, they would have to pay me to keep their service. We bought a Hd widescreen t.v and scheduled them to hook up the box. They guy couldn't even find the power button on the T.V. My husband ended up hooking up the cable, calling somewhere to authorize the box, and sitting on hold for hours. When their box was faulty, I was told to take it to a store and get a new one. Option 2, wait a week to get an appointment (again after another couple of hours on the phone) By the way, I did leave a call back number, they called and still put me on hold. I have emailed them without a respons.
They are more that willing to put on channels that I don't even want on my screen. They have plenty of adult pay per view and adult I control. Hey, we even get gay movies on our screen, but we can't watch football. Direct T.V. here we come. I'm canceling phone service and Road Runner. Hello Cincy Bell and Zoom Town.

at 9/03/2007 12:33 PM Blogger Jackson said...

Feeling down in the dumps about being held hostage when content providers decide to create whitespace, I dumped TWC altogether and picked up a couple books. I realize this is anathema to the TV Blog, but I will not be played for the fool. I like to watch sports as much as the next guy, but not under these terms- Big Ten Network, NFL Network, & Time Warner can kiss my*end of transmission*

at 9/03/2007 4:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will not pay for B10N, nor will I be pleased if my current bill increases to watch more Michigan lacrosse games. Not good times, bad times.

at 9/04/2007 8:46 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's a shame that we would have to pay extra for b10 & NFL sports. We pay way to much for cable right now and they are holding us hostage for being the only cable company in our area. I am unable to switch to Dish or Direct TV because of all the trees in my area or I would have been gone a long time ago. My husband and children are the only thing keeping me with Time Warner. As for their phone service I'd pick Cinti Bell anytime because when the lights go out the phone still works with CBT and you sure get a clearer voice.
I thinks it's also wrong that the government let's Time Warner have such a monopoly. They sure didn't let ma bell.

at 9/04/2007 9:14 AM Blogger Matt Booher said...

I'd be more than happy to pay extra for them. Or maybe I can trade out the 'Oprah' tier of Lifetime, Oxygen, and WE for the sports tier? Its no wonder people are leaving cable for DirecTV and the Internet in droves.

at 9/04/2007 10:39 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO I would not and I most certainly don't want TW to add a charge to all subscribers bills as the b10 wants. The big games can be seen on the networks now and will continue to be. The extra stuff would be mostly minor sports or games such as Sat's game against Youngstown.

at 9/04/2007 12:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny how TW cries about how they will need to charge more for every new channel (Big10 and NFLN) when DirecTV adds these new channels and my rate never goes up. In fact, our satellite and internet bill is $50 cheaper than when we had TW and Roadrunner.

My reception has gone out for about 10 minutes total in the year we have had DirecTV. We ALWAYS had numerous problems with TW going out and 1/2 of the channels not working on the upstairs TV.
I have since converted four friends into getting DirecTV and get paid for my referral as well.
When will TW wake up?!?

at 9/05/2007 11:12 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like NFL Network but not Big Ten. However I already feel I pay too much for my cable package that includes too many channels that I do not watch. And I would not pay more to include NFL Network, esp. in a sports package that would include other channels that I probably wouldn't watch either.

at 3/12/2008 4:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would pay extra for the Big Ten Network, as long as I am ONLY buying the Big Ten Network at the time. I don't want any other channels in the deal, in order to keep the price low.

But the whole TWC crap is beyond me. "We don't want our users to pay for channels that they don't want". Then why am I paying for LOGO, the Gay and Lesbian channel?

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