CBS, TWC Dispute: Ratings Effect Minimal

UPDATED 2:30 p.m. ET

CBS says that the retransmission dispute that has blacked out CBS stations in Time Warner Cable homes in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas since Friday has had only a small effect on its ratings so far.

Through the first three nights of the blackout, affecting 3.2 million Time Warner Cable customers, CBS Research estimates a minor 1% impact. 

“Because of CBS’s strong ratings growth this summer, the net effect of the blackout will not present an overall ratings hardship,” the network said in a statement. “In addition, August is traditionally one of the lowest months of the year for ratings and advertising revenue, making the overall financial impact of the blackout negligible.”

Analyst John Janedis of UBC estimated that the blackout is costing CBS about $400,000 a day in advertising and retransmission revenues. But he said it amounted to only about 1 cent a share per week in earnings, meaning that CBS can afford to hold out to get the retransmission fees it is seeking.

On the local front, CBS says its Saturday and Sunday coverage of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, dominated by Tiger Woods, was up 150% in viewers compared to last year’s tournament. It was also up 110% in homes and 300% in adults 25 to 54.

Local late news ratings were up at WCBS-TV in New York, KCBS-TV in Los Angeles and KTVT-TV in Dallas by 9% in viewers and 13% in viewers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, compared to the same nights a week ago.

The Texas Rangers’ game against the Oakland As broadcast Friday on CBS’ KTXA-TV in Dallas was up 9% in homes and 2% in viewers compared to the station’s average for Rangers baseball this season. The game’s 5.8 household rating was the highest for a Rangers game in four weeks.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.