|January 6, 2010|
|Scripps Networks Hammers Cablevision on PR Front|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|If I was a betting man, I’d wager that Scripps Networks is going to emerge from its fee squabble with Cablevision smelling like a rose. |
Scripps has been weaving the web to its advantage, while Cablevision is AWOL. SN has used the websites of the Cablevision-banned Food Network and HGTV to its advantage. Cablevision has nada, leaving a huge info vacuum that SN is glad to fill.
[Full Disclosure: HGTV and FN are not exactly my cup of tea. Time Warner Cable, still reeling from its battering from Rupert Murdoch, is my home cable provider.]
Fans of Scripps' Food Network and HGTV that I know are a fiercely loyal bunch. Scripps, which has blanketed the New York area media with ads, has developed a social media strategy to rally fans via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
FN and HGTV websites allow users to comment on the state of affairs and encourage e-cards and phone calls of protest to Cablevison. More than 250K messages have been sent to the cable giant.
Scripps is poised to deliver a powerful (knock-out?) blow to Cablevison. HGTV has teamed with over-the-air TV station WPIX in New York to air the annual "HGTV Dream Home 2010 Special" on Jan. 8.
Food Network will show “Super Chef Battle: An Iron Chef America Event” on Jan. 10 on WPIX and WTXX in Hartford, Conn. Scripps executives are expected to make their case against Cablevision during breaks in the show. The Scripps over-the-air foray will generate more media buzz.
Under the management of the Dolan family, Cablevision has pretty much thumbed its nose at its constituents. In the tussle with Scripps, Cablevision relies on ads on its system. Those spots charge Scripps with corporate extortion for demanding a 300 percent rise in monthly fees per-subscriber.
That argument is a little hard to swallow when Scripps gets paid 25 cents per subscriber for a combination of FN and HGTV. Top cable program ESPN gets $4 per-subscriber. The average Cablevision bill is $83 a month.
As an entrenched cable monopoly, Cablevision enjoys little goodwill. There is another wildcard in the equation. Many New Yorkers blame Cablevision, owner of the New York Knicks, for the decline of that once great franchise.
[Full Disclosure No. 2: Let’s Go Knicks; Welcome to New York, LeBron]. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon as Madison Square Garden is slated to be spun off from Cablevision during the current quarter.
Gossip sites report that MSG honcho Jimmy Dolan has parachuted into the Tiger Woods mess, offering guidance to the embattled golfer. MSG’s PR people dismiss reports is hogwash. That's good news for Woods because Dolan made a mess with his last reclamation project: Stephon "Starbury" Marbury.
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