Scripps Networks has been pouring on the vitriol in its dispute with Cablevision. But while it may be eager to reach a deal, the standoff doesn't seem to be affecting ad revenue.
Scripps pulled Food Network and HGTV off 3 million Cablevision homes on Jan. 1. Yet ratings have been on the increase.
By one measure, Food's viewership is up 12%, while HGTV has seen a 14% rise. Similar increases have resulted in the target adult 25-to-54 demo.
Scripps took both networks off Cablevision in a battle over affiliate fees Jan. 1. Scripps argues the 25 cents Cablevision pays it for the two channels combined is below market value. Cablevision says the rate increase that Scripps is seeking is ludicrous. Both sides have lobbed invective at each other in ads and in the press.
It might take more than 3 million homes going dark to markedly affect ratings. The 3 million Cablevision homes represent only about 3% of the customer base for both Food and HGTV.
But the significant ratings increase is still noteworthy, if for no other reason than its potential effect on the negotiations to restore carriage.
It could embolden Scripps, at least in part, to hold its line for the time being (currently, Cablevision pays it an estimated $750,000 a month in affiliate fees for Food and HGTV).
For the Jan. 4-10 stretch -- the first Monday-Sunday period of 2010 --Food Network averaged 1.31 million viewers in "live plus same day" performance. By one measure, that marked an increase over the 1.17 million the network had been averaging for the 2009-10 season until that point.
HGTV saw viewership rise to 1.38 million for the Jan. 4-10 period, compared to 1.2 million for the season until then.
Among adults 25 to 54, Food Network posted an average of 690,000 viewers Jan. 4-10 -- compared to 615,000 for the season until that point.
HGTV drew an average of 579,000 viewers in the key demo for Jan. 4-10, up from a season average of 522,000.