Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York will be able to watch CBS for the first time tonight since the blackout began on Aug. 2. But this is only a temporary relief.
The two agreed to halt the blackout during Thursday night's debate between Democratic candidates for New York City comptroller that will air on WCBS at 7 p.m. And in the event the dispute is not resolved come the debate among the Republican mayoral candidates on Aug. 28 and the runoff debate between Democratic mayoral candidates on Sept. 23, Time Warner Cable and CBS also agreed to lift the blackout during those times.
While the two media giants continue to negotiate, no real progress has been made for a renewed carriage agreement. And the blackout isn't being lifted in any of Time Warner Cable's other markets.
As CBS negotiates with Time Warner Cable, the broadcaster quietly reached a new three-year agreement with Verizon FiOs on Thursday. As part of the deal, FiOs will carry CBS Sports on a broader tier, which will expand its subscriber base. Verizon FiOs has 5 million subscribers primarily in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, where the Time Warner blackout is currently taking place. The blackout affects about 3.2 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in those markets.
In a memo sent to staffers on Thursday, CEO Leslie Moonves said Verizon has more subscribers in those three markets than Time Warner Cable and that CBS has offered Time Warner Cable almost exactly the same deal that Verizon accepted.
"I cannot describe to you the frustration I feel at the way these negotiations have gone," Mr. Moonves wrote. "Never in my most pessimistic moments did I ever think that they would have lasted this long and have been so difficult. In many aspects of the deal, Time Warner Cable is demanding different terms than any other company in the business. I am frankly mystified by what appears to be a lack of urgency to resolve this matter for their customers."
Time Warner Cable declined to comment on Mr. Moonves' remarks.
The blackout hasn't made any noticeable impact on CBS's ratings. The eye network won its eighth straight week in total viewers for the week ended Aug. 18, averaging 5.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings supplied by CBS. The network even saw a 5% increase in viewers compared to the same week last year.
While its summer hit, "Under the Dome," has seen a down tick since the blackout, it still brought in 10.3 million viewers on Monday.
Amid the blackout, Time Warner Cable is hoping to placate subscribers by offering a free preview of the Tennis Channel during the U.S. Open. The network will be made available from Aug. 26 to Sept. 9 and will air 240 hours of coverage.
But Time Warner Cable subscribers won't be able to watch the men's and women's semifinals and finals, as well as the mixed doubles final, to which CBS has exclusive TV rights.