With Umpire Chair Branding Deal, TWC Gets ‘Open’ Views on CBS


Coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament on CBS might not be available to Time Warner Cable subscribers, but the cable operator will almost certainly will be part of CBS’s coverage.

And no, this isn’t one of those SAT logic problems The Wire always wound up guessing at in high school.

The Wire noted that in the ESPN2’s earlyround coverage of the tournament, the umpire chairs at both Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums, the tournament’s two main courts, were emblazoned with Time Warner Cable’s name and logo .

There aren’t many close-ups of the chair — John McEnroe could have generated some major umpire chair exposure in his day — but maybe there will be enough to make TWC’s point.

But wait, there’s more. On Aug. 23, TWC announced a multiyear “official sponsor” partnership that includes, in addition to the chair logos, a “Time Warner Cable Experience” at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center featuring a video wall, appearances from past tennis greats, a “special umpire chair” photo op and mobile-device charging stations. TWC will also promote its “Connect a Million Minds” education initiative with a “STEM in Tennis” station highlighting the math and science behind a winning tennis shot.

Given the timing of the partnership deal, and the fact that the press release announcing it even talked about the retransmission dispute and where viewers could access tennis “if the blackout is not resolved before the start of the U.S. Open,” was this TWC’s way of tweaking CBS by making it promote the MSO on-air? We served up that question to the cable operator.

“We had a sponsorship deal in place with USTA before the CBS dispute, so the two aren’t related,” volleyed a TWC spokesperson.

NBCU Deal Terms Comcastically Real, Two Years Later

It’s now officially official. Comcast-owned NBCUniversal:

• Has to make its content available to online video distributors (OVDs) on reasonable terms and conditions, (unless of course that site promotes pornography or gambling;

• Does not get to make any management decisions about the fate of Hulu, in which it shares an ownership interest with The Walt Disney Co. and Twenty-First Century Fox; and

• Must abide by the Federal Communications Commission’s network-neutrality rules no matter what happens in court, with oral argument slated for Sept. 9 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Those are the money provisions of the Justice Department’s modified final judgment settlement, finally approved just two weeks ago by a district court. Comcast agreed to DOJ consent-decree terms more than two and a half years ago in order to secure Justice and FCC approval to buy 51% of NBCU from General Electric with an option to buy the rest by July 1, 2013.

Under the agreement, Comcast agreed to abide by OVD-access, network-neutrality and other provisions pending court approval. That was a good thing for fans of all those conditions, as “pending” proved to be the operative word.

Come to think of it, is agreeing to abide by an agreement before the agreement is approved enforceable? If so, then Comcast agreed to abide by its Open Internet Order even before that condition was officially approved by one court, and even if the FCC’s rules were disapproved by another court.

The judge did not sign off on the document until two weeks ago, according to the DOJ’s website, which billed the agreement as “late-breaking news.”

Justice and Comcast agreed to the consent decree Jan. 18, 2011. The FCC approved the deal the same day (it coordinated its review with DOJ). Comcast closed on the deal Jan. 29, 2011. On March 19, Comcast bought out the remainder of GE’s stake in NBCU (49%) for 16.7 billion.

— John Eggerton

Some Ad Gripes Missed the Target

The Direct Marketing Association said it received around 300 complaints about online behavioral advertising (OBA) between March of 2012 and this June, but suggests that many of them were not actually about behavioral advertising. And only a handful were about problems with opting out of those ads, the DMA claimed, though one problem highlighted a possibly vexing technical problem with opting out.

The DMA collects complaints to aid compliance with the Digital Advertising Alliance’s OBA opt-out system via the aboutads.info website and use of the Advertising Option Icon.

Of the “handful” of complaints DMA said it received about not being able to opt out, one resulted in the provider actually reclassifying the ad because it was not targeted, while another led to the realization that some antivirus software may interfere with the opt-out process. That could prove problematic, given how common such software has become.

The most common complaints included gripes about general ads, which don’t fall under the OBA, and complaints about ads that were doing the blocking themselves — that is, covering up stuff consumers actually wanted to see on the site, the DMA said.

But the top complaint was over dating ads or ones considered “indecent.” That included swimsuit and lingerie ads, though, “so indecent is obviously in the eye of the mouse-holder,” the DMA noted.

The dating ad concerns included “happily married consumers being offended by receiving singles ads.” (How did the DMA determine they were “happily” married?)

Why were they offended? “These consumers didn’t want their spouses to think these were targeted ads,” the DMA said.

Where was it the DMA said those complaint forms could be secured?

— John Eggerton