DTV Antenna Sales Rise in CBS Blackout Markets

The ongoing dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable customers predictably has turned into a quick sales opportunity for some consumer electronics stores that hawk digital over-the-air antennas in the blackout markets.

“[P]urchases of HD antennas and related products are up double digits compared to prior weeks in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles,” a Radio Shack spokeswoman said Friday via email.

Those markets represent the bulk of the 3.2 million TWC who are affected by the standoff, now in its eight day.

Radio Shack sells an array of different indoor and outdoor DTV antennas. Among the indoor products sold by Radio Shack via the Web, various RCA models sell for $34.99 or $49.99, while an Antennacraft version fetches $49.99.

Simple digital rabbit ears aren't the only technical option available to some TWC customers who seek out ways to access the CBS signal.  Aereo, so far, has declined to say how the feud has impacted sales and signups in New York City, its first deployed market. Aereo is launching in Dallas, but not until September 23. Los Angeles is not yet on Aereo’s list of launch targets.

CBS and TWC resumed talks on a new carriage deal earlier this week.

On Thursday, CBS EVP of planning, policy and government relations Martin Franks, testified to a subcommittee of the New York City Council that “[p]erhaps their [Time Warner Cable’s] real aim here is to use those outdated terms to hamstring our ability to do business with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus and other new entrants that pose a new competitive threat to their former, cozy, unchallenged monopoly status ... CBS is not going to become Time Warner Cable’s accomplice in trying to throttle those new services."

TWC issued this statement in response: "We categorically deny that we are trying to keep CBS from doing business with any new entrant. Both our expired and proposed agreements with CBS place no restriction on their ability to sell all of their product to Netflix, Amazon, Intel or any other entity, or continue to give all of their best content away for free online, as they have to date."