CBS Ads Step Up Retrans Fight

Net Targets Specific Shows ‘Big Brother,’ Others, During Airing

CBS stepped up its war of words with Time Warner Cable last night, airing ads during its broadcast of reality show Big Brother, telling viewers they could miss out on that show and others if an agreement isn’t reached.

CBS has been airing ads since July 18 warning Time Warner Cable customers that they could lose access to CBS programming if the broadcaster did not reach a retransmission consent agreement with the cabler by June 25. That deadline has since been extended to July 29 at 5 p.m. as both parties attempt to hammer out a deal.

The Big Brother ad is interesting in that it is targeting specific viewers, instead of more generic ads dispersed throughout the programming day. In the Big Brother spot, viewers are asked, “What’s Worse Than Being Evicted From the Big Brother House? How About Time Warner Cable Evicting Big Brother From Your House?”

A similar spot is expected to air during CBS’ Big Brother broadcast tonight (July 25). CBS has run other ads specific to other shows like popular mini-series Under the Dome and others.

In the event CBS does pull its signal, Big Brother fans can see replays of the show on TVGN (formerly the TV Guide Network) on Fridays. The most recent episode of the show and others are also avilable for free online at   

In a research note Thursday, Davenport & Co. media analyst Michael Morris wrote that he believes a deal could come soon.

We believe that CBS would only extend TWC access to their content if they believe progress was being made in the negotiations,” Morris wrote.

Morris noted that while some analysts have said TWC has the upper hand because of the absence of event programming like regular season National Football League games, the NFL preseason starts in August. CBS is scheduled to air all four New York Jets preseason games beginning on Aug, 9.

“While preseason is certainly less popular than regular season, a starting quarterback competition is likely to draw interest from fans,” Morris wrote. “If TWC loses the CBS signal, consider 8/9 the date of the first reminder that watching the Jets will not be an easy option for TWC subscribers.”