We're all victims

So, Cox communications, my local cable provider is in a pissing match with ESPN over Cox wanting to move ESPN out of basic cable. Cox claims that ESPN has hiking up it’s prices over the last 5 years to crazy levels, and that they can’t make money keeping ESPN on basic cable. ESPN claims that Cox is trying to rip off its customers by moving the channels they really want to watch over to premium packages and digital cable. The interesting thing here is that they aren’t trying to fight it out in a board room, or in the courts, but instead are raging PR battles to try and win the public over to their own oppinions.

Both sides are fighting, and their customers are the traumatized children of parents heading for divorce. Each parent is desparately clamoring for the favor of the kids, but in this divorce there are no presents or bribery involved, just petty bickering.

While I don’t know all of the details of the argument, I can tell you that I have watched more and more channels get moved into premium packages by Cox over the last 2 years. Sundance and IFC once they got popular were moved into a package with about 6 other channels of complete crap which you have to pay $5 a month more for. Their spots on basic were replaced with something like the garden channel. If you just want basic, without digital, you now have something like 30 channels, most of which are local affiliates which I believe they are oblicated to carry. I don’t watch any of those channels.

I watch probably 15 channels total, and most of that time is spent with HBO, TechTV, Comedy Channel, and until they got rid of Farscape, Scifi. For this privilege I pay about $60. Cox whines about how switching to digital is costing them tons of money. Whatever. Switching to digital just like in the Telecom industry stands to save them tons of money over the long run. It allows them to defeat most people who were stealing cable, and allows them to charge more for better service. The cable industry has been drug kicking and screaming into the digital age, and they’re passing on all the cost and none of the benefits to their customers. If you can’t tell, I shed no tears for Cox.

I don’t really watch ESPN, and I don’t know much about their business practices, but they are a huge company and no doubt have their own interests to serve in all this. I’m sure their advertising base is among them. People generally don’t like seeing ads on paid programming. But at least they are trying to make sure that we don’t end up paying more to see their channel

However it ends up working out, I’m sure the consumers will get the short end of the stick.