Those of you Cablevision-subscribing entertainment junkies not lucky enough to be on a tropical getaway over spring break were likely on the edge of your couch last week, as ABC and Cablevision held anticipating Oscar viewers hostage over a $40 million broadcasting dispute.
Just days before the Oscars — one of the most watched programs on television — both ABC and Cablevision used their ad time to air messages about the programming battle, which had been going on for nearly two years, according to an article on
Cablevision said that ABC’s request for an additional $40 million broadcasting fee was unreasonable. ABC claimed that there should be no sympathy for Cablevision, which charges its over 3 million customers $18 per month at minimum while its CEOs make millions a year.
The only opinions left out of these commercials, which resembled political mudslinging more than ad campaigns, were those of the supposedly valued customers and viewers.
“The only truth unveiled by all this is that consumers, powerless to actually force the Oscars onto the air, ended up taking it out on both companies,” wrote Catherine P. Taylor, a reporter on digital media and advertising, in her blog for Media Post Publications.
“It doesn’t really matter to them who’s at fault, and that’s a lesson future combatants in the retransmission wars need to learn. No consumer is going to shed a tear for either company in these battles, though they will get very ticked off if they don’t get the programming they paid for,” Taylor said.
Taylor anonymously quoted disgruntled viewers, who used social networking to vent their frustrations towards both companies. According to her blog, some posts read:

• “God Bless the rabbit ears. They saved the Oscars.”

• “After last nite’s Oscars fiasco w/ Cablevision, I feel like I live in the CORPORATE States Of America. And I don’t like it one bit.”

• “ABC and Cablevision: use me as leverage at your peril. Consumer already looking for alternative distribution models and content sources.”

• “I’m streaming the academy awards live on chatroulette — sorry abc and cablevision, you’re both monumental losers.”

• “Watching oscars and hoping cablevision doesn’t give ABC their $40 million. I’m sick of the feuds and channels holding viewers hostage.”

Do these sentiments suggest the growing irrelevance of television, when programs are now so readily available online?

While streaming video of television programs used to be illegal, media companies are now viewing online television as a legitimate viewing outlet.
For some, scheduled TV programming is too confining for their fast-paced lives. Along with news, music, and other forms of entertainment, the latest trend in television is instant gratification.
“Usually I do not have time to watch my favorite shows at their designated time because of homework or other activities, so I catch the latest episodes online whenever I can,” said Sarah Turner ‘10.
“Historically, the winners are the ones who embrace change,” said Jason Kilar, CEO of, after the Web site’s launch in 2007. The Web site has been recognized as #3 in Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2009, according to
Never before has it been easier to watch TV whenever you want — and, in some cases, wherever. The thousands of Web sites hosting TV programming are just a Google search away. Many stations, including ABC, make their programming available online for free. And most portable television devices cost less than a hundred dollars — that is, if you don’t feel like watching TV right from your phone.
In today’s technologically driven world, the alternate possibilities to television are endless — a fact that big media companies ought to keep in mind when they alienate subscribers over monetary disputes.

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