Commentary

Legacy, Virtual Pay TV Operators Usually Follow The Money, Not The Politics

In the world of continued cord-cutting, only the strong, modestly healthy pay TV services can survive. Legacy TV distributors just want to make money. Political-leanings? Not really a long-lasting consideration in that formula.

Following a report that DirecTV would be dropping OAN, a small conservative news TV network, another small politically-conservative leaning TV network Newsmax has been seeing some cuts as well, albeit with small-to-medium cable TV operators.

Since Dec. 31, Newsmax has been pulled off the pay TV grids of cable operators including Breezeline (formerly Atlantic Broadband), Cincinnati Bell, South Carolina's Hargray Communications (now owned by Cable One) and Central Pennsylvania's Blue Ridge Communications.

Breezeline says this was a strict financial decision:

"While we worked in good faith to negotiate a new agreement, Newsmax insisted on unreasonable terms and conditions that would have resulted in increased TV fees for all Atlantic Broadband customers, even though Newsmax is available for free [emphasis added] for other viewers.”

In other words, follow the money. It didn’t elaborate. Newsmax doesn’t see it that way.

"Despite our high ratings with personalities like Greg Kelly, Eric Bolling, Sean Spicer, Lyndsay Keith, Dick Morris, Alan Dershowitz, and more — it is clear that Blue Ridge doesn’t like Newsmax’s point of view," per a company statement.

Really? High ratings? Maybe more specific viewership and impressions data is needed -- as well as possible advertising leads.

The OAN/DirectTV news is a more impactful thing, as DirecTV, a big satellite TV distributor, has around 9 million subscribers.

Still, many speculate the OAN fallout also had to do with repeated disinformation on the news channel. According to a senior DirecTV executive, that wasn’t the case. It was about money.

Disinformation and inappropriate associations have been issues for TV advertisers. They can pull back on TV news programs when it seems facts aren’t lacking or fumbled -- deliberately.

At various times, TV advertisers on opinion-focused Fox News Channel prime-time shows issued public statements noting they would bail on specific shows -- but not the network overall.

In turn, perhaps pay TV providers also feel a pullback from local marketers. No matter. Fox News Channel remains on their lineup.

There’s a broader viewpoint. Flip around the dial of your favorite legacy, virtual, streaming-focused or other TV network/programmer distributors and notice changes in network lineups. Profit margins are getting tougher to maintain. Cuts are being made.

For example, regional sports networks are increasingly under pressure as pay TV network distributors -- legacy, virtual and otherwise -- can no longer support all of them.

Pay TV executives now see cord-cutting/trimming subscribers of pay TV providers anywhere from 8% to 10% per year. Tough decisions are being made.

And then ask yourself, in response to the Newsmax reference:

Do cable/satellite/virtual pay TV operators have their own “points of view”? And if so, why do they still have a range of TV networks on their platform -- racy, family-oriented, frivolous entertainment channels, as well as religious, conservative and liberal-leaning news networks?

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