I’ve been in the advertising and marketing business virtually all of my career, and while I still toil at that I’m taking a shot at writing, something I’ve always wanted to do, both because I enjoy it but more importantly because it was my late Dad’s career and he was darn good at it. Unfortunately, he left us two years ago with a number of things in the unfinished category, including writing a book and writing a weekly column on whatever was in his crisp, witty, somewhat satirical mind. So in his honor I submit the first edition of hopefully many ramblings that might pique your interest just a little bit.
I’ll be back each Tuesday with something that hopefully will entertain you. I hope you join me.
Right out of the box, I’d like to talk about something that’s been bugging the heck out of me. Those of you who aren’t Time Warner Cable subscribers may not appreciate this, but on the other hand, after you’re done reading you may get some perverse satisfaction that your cable TV comes from another source. If you do have Time Warner, you’ve now received your second series of “Roll Over or Get Tough” emails in the last twelve months. The first came in November 2009 when Time Warner grappled with the owner of FOX and FOX SPORTS regional sports networks. The second came within the last month against Disney Corp, owners of ABC and ESPN. Time Warner’s pitch to we subscribers is that the networks are demanding enormous increases in the fees they charge the cable company to provide us, the customer, with their shows. Theoretically this is cutting into the money Time Warner has left over “to make sure we can keep bringing you more great products and services.” Hmm. I wonder what Time Warner does with the $1 billion in net income they reported in 2009? The deal of course is that all of the channels owned by the network provider, for example all the ESPN Networks that are owned by Disney, would have been blacked out for TWC subscribers if a deal hadn’t been struck at the eleventh hour on September 2. How horrific!
I have no problem with the network suppliers charging fees, Disney and its networks, in this case, creates and owns the programming, and since the cable companies, in this case Time Warner, charge their subscribers for the privilege of watching TV, it makes sense for there to be a fee for the broadcasting rights. But why involve us? Why the heck should we care? The strategy might be as simple as trying to make us forget the already exorbitant rates they charge. If they can sway you into thinking that you’re a part of the decision-making process, maybe you’ll be more loyal to them.
And they really have little competition. Virtually all the homes in Southeastern Wisconsin are wired for cable. And while we could always go to AT&T, which offers cool things like the iPhone and pretty affordable bundles, we are all sucked in to the “cable” concept, leading of course to the “cable” company, Time Warner. So what can we do?
One way to at least get some semblance of satisfaction is to call Time Warner customer service, keep going through the myriad of menu options and prompts (don’t get discouraged, you CAN get through) long enough to get a promotional sales rep, and threaten to switch unless they find a way to lower your rates. It’s amazing how often they have promotions that, not surprisingly, they don’t tell people about.
But the bottom line is that I’m sick of this gratuitous campaign. I don’t want to be involved. I don’t what updates on “the situation”. And I really don’t care if Time Warner “rolls over”; I don’t care of they “get tough”. As far as I’m concerned they can stick it in their ear.