UPDATE, 7:50 AM: CBS CEO Leslie Moonves says the deal CBS just signed with Verizon‘s FiOS TV in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, among other markets, is virtually identical to the one offered to Time Warner Cable. “This important deal was reached swiftly and amicably in just a few days after our conversations began,” Moonves said pointedly in a memo to staff this morning. “You should know that Time Warner Cable has been offered almost exactly the same deal for CBS carriage to which Verizon has agreed.” TWC is entirely to blame for the “lack of urgency” on its retrans talks with the network, Moonves said. The Verizon deal gives FiOS over-the-air retrans rights; it does not cover digital rights. (Moonves’ full memo after the original story.)
PREVIOUS, AM: Three weeks into its battle with Time Warner Cable, CBS — blacked out on TWC in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas — has announced it had reached a new deal for continued retransmission of CBS-owned stations and wider distribution of CBS Sports Network on Verizon’s FiOS TV in multiple markets nationwide, including New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas. “This important deal was reached swiftly and amicably in just a few days after our conversations began,” CBS chairman Leslie Moonves said pointedly in a memo to staff. The Verizon deal includes all of the approximately 3.5 million subscribers served in markets where CBS owns TV stations. FiOS has about 5 million subs total. (CBS and Verizon already had an existing deal for FiOS to carry its Showtime and Smithsonian networks.) “We’ve reached this agreement in partnership with CBS for our customers, so that they may continue to enjoy CBS content on FiOS,” Verizon VP Video Content and Strategy added, pointedly. “Verizon continues to address areas of change where necessary in current policies to better reflect the interests of consumers.”
The announcement comes the morning after CBS and TWC had a mini-breakthrough in their retransmission head-butting. In New York City, both parties agreed to un-black-out Channel 2 for debates for mayor and comptroller. (The debates will also air on channel 75, a backup arrangement CBS made before the mini-truce was struck). Here’s this morning’s CBS/Verizon announcement:
NEW YORK – August 22, 2013 – CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) have reached a new agreement for continued retransmission of CBS owned stations and wider distribution of CBS Sports Network on Verizon’s FIOS TV in multiple markets across the country, it was announced today by both companies. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“We are very pleased to reach this agreement with Verizon and its FIOS service,” said Ray Hopkins, President, Television Networks Distribution, CBS Corporation. “This deal was reached in a short period of time, and CBS has once again achieved fair value for our over-the-air rights. Verizon is a distribution partner of growing importance to us that provides excellent service to its expanding number of subscribers, and we are glad that this partnership will continue and grow.”
“We’ve reached this agreement in partnership with CBS for our customers, so that they may continue to enjoy CBS content on FiOS,” said Terry Denson, Vice President of Video Content and Strategy at Verizon. “Verizon continues to address areas of change where necessary in current policies to better reflect the interests of consumers.”
As part of the agreement, CBS owned stations in various Verizon markets including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, will continue to be distributed to FiOS TV subscribers. This includes all of the approximately 3.5 million subscribers served in markets where CBS owns television stations. (FiOS has approximately 5 million subscribers in total.) FiOS TV will also continue to provide – free to the viewer – CBS programming via Verizon’s industry-leading video on demand services to all subscribers.
Leslie Moonves’ memo:
I am pleased to inform you that today we signed a three-year content carriage agreement with Verizon for its FiOS systems across the country. This important deal was reached swiftly and amicably in just a few days after our conversations began. In it, we achieve fair value for our over-the-air rights, while preserving our streaming rights as well. CBS content will be available to 100% of all Verizon FiOS customers, and we will grow as they do. Our CBS Sports Network will be available on a broader tier, which will add millions of subscribers to that growing business. In short, this is a great deal for CBS and for Verizon, which has 5 million subscribers, the majority in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.
Those cities may seem familiar to you as you follow our situation with Time Warner Cable. They cover almost precisely the same territory, but Verizon has more subscribers in those markets, where we are now blacked out by that cable company for going on three full weeks now. You should know that Time Warner Cable has been offered almost exactly the same deal for CBS carriage to which Verizon has agreed.
I cannot describe to you the frustration I feel at the way these negotiations have gone. Never in my most pessimistic moments did I ever think that they would have lasted this long and have been so difficult. In many aspects of the deal, Time Warner Cable is demanding different terms than any other company in the business. I am frankly mystified by what appears to be a lack of urgency to resolve this matter for their customers.
Still, we’ll keep talking. Today’s announcement makes clear, however, if there was ever any doubt, that we are prepared to move decisively and thoughtfully to achieve a good conclusion for all parties involved in these kinds of negotiations. When Time Warner Cable is ready, we’ll be there.
Congratulations to our great negotiating team on this terrific agreement with Verizon, and thanks to you all, as always, for your support.