And the Oscar for the industry’s best drama goes to… ABC. The Disney-owned (s DIS) broadcaster reached a tentative agreement with Cablevision (s CVC) minutes into the telecast of the Academy Awards, according to a New York Times report.
ABC and Cablevision had been embroiled in a very public dispute over the right to carry New York’s WABC-7 on the cable’s pay TV service. ABC had threatened to cut off Cablevision if the cable company didn’t agree to pay substantially higher retransmission fees; the network followed through in the wee hours of Sunday, and Cablevision’s New York-based customers were facing the very real possibility of missing Hollywood’s most prestigious awards show.
In fact, 3.1 million of the cable company’s customers did miss the first 14 minutes of the Oscars. WABC-7 returned to Cablevision at 8.44pm EST, and a news ticker scrolling through the bottom of the screen proclaimed that “ABC7 and Cablevision have made significant progress in negotiations and are pleased to announce that ABC7’s signal has returned to Cablevision customers as they try to finalize a deal,” according to a New York Daily News report.
It’s still unclear how this final deal will look like, and there seems to be a very real chance that it could still fall through. ABC initially asked for one dollar per subscriber, and Cablevision’s initial counter-offer hasn’t been made public, but it’s said to have been much lower.
Conflicts like this one have become fairly common as broadcasters are trying to find new sources of revenue. Time Warner Cable (s TWX) squabbled with Fox (s NWS) during the recent holiday season, and earlier this year Scripps Network (s SNI) pulled its HGTV and Food Network channels off Cablevision for three weeks to press for higher fees.
But during any of those negotiations, high-profile broadcasters like ABC hadn’t taken any real chances to actually cause black-outs of their programming. The 2010 Academy Awards may just mark the day the gloves came off between broadcasters and cable providers.
New Yorkers had a few options for their Oscar night even if no deal was reached. ABC offered a live stream from the red carpet on Oscar.com, and Cablevision offered its VOD titles for free to its cable subscribers.
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