Time Warner, Verizon Dropping Low-Rated Channels
Time Warner Cable Drops Their Only Dedicated Arts Channel
Companies like Time Warner Cable and Verizon are now ditching less viewed channels in the hopes of countering soaring programming costs. As the Los Angeles Times
notes, Time Warner Cable said it was dropping the arts channel Ovation
(the only dedicated arts channel in their lineup) because of low ratings. Similarly, Verizon says they're dropping a slew of under-performing networks as well, including Youtoo, Blackbelt TV, Blue Highway, and MAV TV.
blames bandwidth conservation and ESPN costs for elbowing out less-expensive fare:
Beyond the ratings, there are myriad reasons that big pay-TV distributors are trying to cut smaller channels. The biggest is the rising cost of programming, particularly sports. Though Youtoo, Ovation and the other channels being dropped are less than 10 cents per-subscriber, per-month, every penny counts if ESPN costs more than $5 per-month, per-subscriber. Also, there is a bandwidth issue. Pay-TV distributors are adding more high-definition versions of popular channels and that eats up channel capacity.
Some Time Warner Cable customers inform us that the notice they received announcing the dropping of Ovation insists they're dropping channels to lower prices, yet the same e-mail notifies customers of looming price hikes. You might recall that one of the criticisms of a la carte pricing (buying individual channels instead of bundles) was that smaller, more niche channels wouldn't survive such a pricing shift, and the move would drive up prices. That now appears to be happening anyway.