Leverage In a Time of Drops

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AT&T’s U-Verse TV dropped Scripps
Networks Interactive’s five national channels
last week.

G4 also just came off DirecTV.

Fuse and the MSG regional sports channels
have been off Dish Network for several weeks,
and Hallmark’s two channels are still off U-Verse.

Fox’s regional sports channels are back on
Dish Network, though. And Cablevision Systems
has regained several Fox TV stations and
cable channels that were lost for a while.

It’s hard these days to keep track of which
networks are off (or still off) which multichannel
lineups.

We are, though, hearing more from both sides about
why this or that network might have gotten the shove, as
each side hopes to score points with the public.

Clearly, video deals are more complicated at this
time of “TV Everywhere” services, non-video “doubleplay”
sales and rising costs for retransmitting broadcast
stations.

Scripps last Friday said AT&T already agreed to money
terms — usually the big sticking point — but wanted
ancillary rights.

“AT&T felt like they deserved to have all of our video
available to them on all current and future non-linear
platforms — mobile, website, iPads, etc. — and that’s a
broad ask that could damage our business,” SNI president
John Lansing told MCN’s Tom Umstead.

AT&T put it differently. It said Scripps
wants AT&T to “pay double” what smallersized
affiliates pay.

That doesn’t sound like an agreement on
dollars.

Ah but wait, there’s more. AT&T said
Scripps “wants this premium price for inferior
access to their content for our customers
on other platforms, even though other
competitors get this at much lower prices.”

Maybe they agreed on dollars based on
multiplatform access.

Leverage can take many forms. One kind
comes from actual must-have programming,
such as the baseball World Series or football’s
Super Bowl.

Other times, leverage requires more creativity.

In May, Dish said it was going to drop The Weather
Channel for a lower-cost startup service.

Instead, Dish signed a new contract that included a
promise of new Weather applications for Dish, including
for Google’s Android mobile platform. Dish had recently
allied with Google.

Scripps might hope for a similar wild card that appeals
to AT&T. Otherwise it might have to muster up
subscriber leverage, as it did with Cablevision Systems
when SNI channels were off that operator for
much of January.

Not everyone has an Android up his sleeve.

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