Liz Janneman not only speaks fluent Dutch, she is also a very effective senior sales executive for Ovation TV. She started in the business at a rep firm before moving into the agency side of the business in local and then in national cable buying. She talks about buying networks according to their “brand essence” before there was a Nielsen measurement for cable.
OvationTV, which is a personal favorite of mine, is the only arts-oriented cable network available to subscribers. And yet, Time Warner Cable has decided to drop Ovation from its line-up, effectively shutting it out from major cities like New York and Los Angeles. According to the TWC customer service people I have spoken to about the network, they dropped Ovation without adding any suitable replacement in that tier, effectively lowering the value of their service to their subscribers.
In my interview with her, Liz talks about the impact of the Time Warner decision, the importance of arts for communities, and the challenges independent cable networks face when competing for channel space with multi-network corporations.
Below is an excerpt from the interview, whose videos can be seen here:
CW: When I called Time Warner Cable to ask why they dropped Ovation from my line-up, the customer service rep suggested I watch “Pawn Stars” as a replacement to Ovation. While “Pawn Stars” is a great program, I would not consider it a replacement for Ovation. What are your thoughts on that suggestion?
LJ: That would be funny if this weren't so blatantly misleading their customers. That rep should have said "Sorry, there's nothing else on our lineup like Ovation, so you're out of luck" -- because that's the truth. We are a totally unique service that is dedicated to the arts. Because of TWC’s decision, if you want to get the only arts network in America, and you're a TWC subscriber, you've got to switch providers -- DIRECTV, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse all carry Ovation.
CW: Can you go into the details of what occurred that resulted in Ovation being dropped in New York and Los Angeles?
LJ: Time Warner Cable made a decision based on their own business priorities, pure and simple. What they give as reasons for that decision in public are rather dubious, however. For example, they say Ovation was one of their poorest performing networks, but we're not sure where they are getting their data. According to Nielsen, the industry standard, we have seen 55% to 85% year over year growth in viewership. Ovation's weekly reach is larger than 20 other networks carried by TWC.
They also claim that we don’t have enough arts programming. In fact, during the first quarter of this year, we have 529 program on our schedule, 78% of which are arts programs unique to Ovation. Time Warner Cable is just quoting from their own playbook and is cheating their customers out of the only network on TV dedicated to artful programming.