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Boxing Payday Helped Showtime Get Back On Time Warner Cable

Industry pundits have weighed in on which factors finally contributed to Time Warner Cable and CBS reaching a retransmission-consent deal (see Cover Story). One factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is the punch CBS-owned Showtime’s Sept. 14 Floyd “Money” Mayweather versus Canelo Alvarez pay-per-view fight may have given the negotiations.

With the fight’s pay TV payday expected to approach the record $132 million set in 2007 when Oscar De La Hoya fought Mayweather, CBS, Showtime and TWC all had an incentive to get a deal done before the bulk of the fight’s $80 million marketing and promotional campaign went into effect.

“It was certainly on both parties’ minds,” Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president at the programmer and general manager for Showtime Sports, told The Wire. “I know that it was an issue that both sides were very aware of throughout the negotiations.”

Time Warner Cable however, said that the fight "was never part of the negotiations or any sort of factor in the resolution, and that even in a blackout situation, all Time Warner Cable customers would have been able to get the fight."

Time Warner added that Mr. Espinoza "was not part of any of the negotiations and that any discussions he refers to would have been internal between CBS and Showtime, not with Time Warner Cable."

Showtime wants to generate as many buys as possible to help pay for its multimillion-dollar six-fight deal with Mayweather. Alvarez is his most formidable and appealing opponent, so this fight and any potential rematch could be the most lucrative events out of the pack of six.

Showtime was hoping fight ads slated to run during CBS National Football League games this past weekend and primetime shows this week will do much to raise awareness and interest in the fight. (For more, see Content).

Richard Schaefer, CEO of fight promoter Golden BoyPromotions, said Time Warner Cable — with CBS back in the fold to run cross-channel spots and Showtime back on the air in markets including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas — could reach marketing and promotional levels needed to generate as much as a 50% revenue split from each pay-per-view buy.

“[The impasse] certainly didn’t impact [the fight] in a positive way … We got thousands and thousands of emails from unhappy Time Warner subscribers missing our content,” he said. “They represent a big chunk of the potential PPV buys.”

Espinoza said the bulk of Showtime’s marketing has been focused on the next two weeks leading up to the fight. “That’s the most crucial window for the fight, so [the dispute] hardly impacted [marketing] at all,” he said.

‘Crossfire’ Host Jones Admires Jeff Zucker’s Hands-On Approach

Count Crossfire co-host Van Jones as a big fan of Jeff Zucker.

Jones, who last week was gearing up for the Sept. 9 relaunch of CNN’s iconic political debate show when he spoke to The Wire, had nothing but praise for the CNN Worldwide president. The former White House environmental adviser recounted a moment on inauguration night in January when Zucker, then newly appointed, asked CNN’s on-air talent to work an extra hour on the telecast.

“I was about to do a little harrumph, when [Zucker] actually shows up. It wasn’t an intern showing up — he asked us personally can we stay. That’s the kind of hands-on leadership you want. When you have someone like him who has such a powerful vision and such a hands-on leader and inspires people, it’s an electrifying feeling just to be around him,” Jones said.

As for Crossfire, Jones said the show’s return means viewers can see issues debated with equal time given to both sides of the political aisle, something he believes the public is clamoring for. The premiere date for the show, pairing Jones with co-hosts S.E. Cupp, Stephanie Cutter and Newt Gingrich, was moved up one week to today (Sept. 9)to be in position to weigh in on breaking political news such as the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

“I think [partisan cable news] has made our politics a lot worse,” Jones said. “I think we’ve come to a fatigue point with the polarization — I think both sides are a little weary with the dysfunction, and I think we’re coming along at the right time.”

He also said the one-topic-per-episode format will allow viewers to hear in-depth perspectives from both sides on the issues that face America.

“That is going to be really riveting for viewers because you get past the soundbites and get deep down into the issues,” he said. “It’s a lot more entertaining when people know that both sides will get a full hearing.”

— R. Thomas Umstead

Eager for Privacy, Many Web Surfers Hide in Plain ‘Site’

While the Obama Administration, Internet service providers and Web content providers are trying to hash out voluntary online privacy guidelines and codes, consumers are looking for legislation to better protect their information, according to a just-released study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

In the meantime, they are using a variety of methods to cover their own digital tracks, including lying about who they are and donning a digital “mask.”

More than a quarter of the people responding (28%) said advertisers were among those from whom they were trying to hide. The percentage using such tactics rose relative to how young the respondent was. In the 18-29 age group, more than a third (34%) were trying to hide from advertisers, followed by 30% of those 30-49, 23% 50-64, and 21% of those 65-plus.

—John Eggerton

The strategies people use to be less visible online:

Clear cookies and browser history: 64%

Delete/edit past postings: 41%

Disable/turn off cookies: 41%;

Don’t use site that asks for name: 36%;

Uses temporary user name/email address: 26%;

Posts anonymous comments: 25%;

Asks someone to remove post about them: 21%;

Tries to mask identity: 18%;

Use public computer: 18%;

Use fake name/untraceable user name: 18%;

Use encrypted communications: 14%;

Use anonymous browsing service: 14%;

Give inaccurate information about themselves: 13%.

Source: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Omnibus Survey of 792 adults 18-plus, conducted July 11-14

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.