CBS Blocks TWC Broadband Subs From Accessing Full Episodes Online

Decision Also Affects DirecTV, Dish Subs That Get High-Speed Internet from Time Warner Cable

The retransmission battle between Time Warner Cable and CBS quickly expanded into the world of broadband Friday night after CBS opted to block Time Warner Cable’s high-speed Internet customers from accessing full episodes of CBS shows via the Web.

“If Time Warner Cable is a customer’s Internet service provider, then their access to CBS full episode content via online and mobile platforms has been suspended as a result of Time Warner Cable’s decision to drop CBS and Showtime from their market,” CBS said in a statement.  “As soon as CBS is restored on Time Warner Cable systems in affected markets, that content will be accessible again.”

In the place of programming, affected TWC customers instead see a message urging them to “Call Time Warner Cable and tell them you want your CBS shows back!," reported The Verge.

TW Cable issued this statement in response to the decision: “CBS has shown utter lack of regard for consumers by blocking Time Warner Cable’s customers, including our high-speed data only customers and millions of customers not affected by a CBS blackout, from accessing their shows on their free website.  CBS enjoys the privilege of using public owned airwaves to deliver their programming – they should not be allowed to abuse that privilege.”

CBS’s decision is also preventing customers who subscribe to video services from satellite TV providers that also subscribe to TWC’s broadband service from accessing full episodes from CBS via the Internet. That collateral damage drew some choice words from DirecTV and the American Television Alliance in statements issued Saturday.

DirecTV, which is siding with TWC over the MSO’s dispute with CBS, said  that it was “appalled to learn that CBS is now punishing DirecTV customers, who may happen to have Time Warner as their Internet provider, by denying them access to CBS content online. The conduct of content companies in their efforts to extract outrageous fees from distributors and consumers may have reached a new low."

The American Television Alliance called CBS’s decision “an outrageous move.”

“This online blackout also affects consumers who use Time Warner Cable broadband for Internet service but who may subscribe to DirecTV or Dish Network for television programming. Viewers of four different providers have now lost 75 separate stations in 52 different markets – an all-time high,” the organization said. “The retransmission consent fight has now spilled onto the Internet, proving once again that our video rules are in drastic need of reform in order to catch up with the changes to the video marketplace. As more and more markets get blacked out – and now, more forms of technology – consumers will continue to suffer.”

After CBS and TWC again failed to reach a deal, the MSO dropped the signal Friday afternoon (Aug. 2), resulting in CBS going dark to about 3 million TWC subs in eight markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. CBS cable channels Showtime, TMC, Flix and the Smithsonian Channel also went dark across TWC’s 12-million sub footprint, as well as systems owned by Bright House Networks.

CBS said Sunday that no negotiations between it and the cable operator occurred over the weekend, following the disconnect on Friday afternoon.