UPDATED: This seems to be what Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt was talking about this month when he threatened to drop some channels as a way to control costs. The cable company has informed Ovation that it will be dumped at the end of the year, when its contract expires. “Ovation is among the poorest performing networks, and is viewed by less than 1% of our customers on any given day,” the No. 2 cable operator says. “We’ve paid more than $10 million in carriage fees to Ovation over the past several years. They’ve had ample opportunity to improve the ratings and the content, and have failed to deliver.” It adds that Ovation’s not as arts-oriented as it claims: “One 7-day period in November 2012 shows that 70% of their schedule was old movies that are repeated, numerous repeats of the PBS show Antique Road Show, Infomercials that are unrelated to the arts, and repeats of TV shows from broadcast networks….Just as broadcast and cable networks make decisions to cancel or move shows that fail to perform, we are obliged to make the same decisions with networks.” Ovation doesn’t buy Time Warner Cable‘s cost-control argument. “While they are investing huge amounts in sports programming, they’ve chosen to limit their customers’ viewing options by cutting the only arts network in their lineup,” Ovation’s EVP Content Distribution Brad Samuels says. “Ultimately, we hope that Time Warner Cable will see the value our other Affiliate partners see in Ovation and will reconsider their decision.”
Cable and satellite companies pay about 7 cents per subscriber per month for the channel, SNL Kagan estimates. It’s expected to generate about $81M in revenue this year, about 57% from pay TV affiliate fees. The channel is an easy target: It’s owned by a group that includes Sparkler Entertainment, Ovation CEO Charles Segars, and Hubbard Media Group — not a major media company that has several channels that Time Warner Cable wants. Ovation says that its growth plans could be derailed by the No. 2 cable operator’s decision. Ovation reaches 51M homes, up from 5M six years ago. The channel adds that it has been a potent advocate for arts funding, and since 2007 has donated more than $14M to projects — including several in areas served by Time Warner Cable such as New York and Los Angeles.