AUSTIN, TX, August 16, 2013 - My inbox has overflowed lately with emails from Statesman readers sounding off on the cable and satellite providers here in Central Texas.
Time Warner Cable, in particular, has been the subject of much discussion. Why? Several reasons.
As part of a nationwide blackout, the area's dominant cable provider left subscribers without Showtime, TMC and a couple other CBS-owned networks after the two sides couldn't reach a new agreement.
Executives with Time Warner Cable called CBS's demands outrageous. CBS countered that it simply wanted reasonable compensation.
But, wait, there's more. We almost didn't get to see the new Fox Sports 1 network, which launches Saturday, on Time Warner Cable. The two sides didn't announce a deal until late this week.
Fox Sports 1, which replaces the Speed network, will air the University of Texas/Texas Tech football game on Thanksgiving Day. It's also set to carry NASCAR, a variety of college sports (not just football) and UFC matchups. MLB games arrive in 2014, followed by the World Cup in 2015.
San Marcos-based Grande Communications also has Fox Sports 1.
Meanwhile, the soon-to-launch Al Jazeera America news channel, which takes the place of the now-defunct Current network, hasn't reached a deal with Time Warner Cable or Grande Communications.
Al Jazeera America is setting up news bureaus nationwide, including one in Dallas that will be staffed by former YNN news anchor Heidi Zhou Castro.
Then, of course, there's the Longhorn Network. The Austin-based channel launched two years ago this month, and it's still not part of Time Warner Cable's lineup.
Here's the latest statement from Time Warner Cable regarding LHN, sent to me today: "We have had discussions with ESPN about the Longhorn Network, but we don't have an agreement with them at this time."
Grande Communications has aired LHN since the beginning, with AT&T U-verse picking up the network after it launched. Customers of most of the nation's largest cable and satellite providers, however, are in the same boat as Time Warner Cable subscribers: no LHN.
So how do cable providers determine which networks they will and won't carry? Grande Communications president Matt Murphy offered some insight.
"We take into consideration what our customers want to watch, how many customers want to watch it and how affordable it is to supply the programming," he told me.
Adding new networks — or keeping existing channels — costs money, which in most cases gets passed along to us. That plays a huge role in just about every decision made by pay-TV providers because higher prices tick us off and tend to drive folks to cut the cord.
"Keeping costs low for our customers is a priority," Murphy said.
By Gary Dinges
Gary Dinges covers bars/restaurants, movies, music, radio and TV - plus a bunch of other fun stuff - for the Austin American-Statesman.
In partnership with: statesman.com
Principal at Giant Noise