Winners from the Fox Blackout


Fox and Cablevision had a short phone call today about their standoff over fees. Fox says "No material progress was made and we remain far apart."

There's always a silver lining, right?

As News Corp's negotiations with Cablevision drag out through a fourth day, the cable company's three million customers in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area are increasingly frustrated about missing out on football. That means a big win for Verizon's FiOS fiber optic system, which is available to the very same area that's suffering with Cablevision right now.

FiOS is running a social media campaign through Twitter and Facebook — to let consumers know that they are an easy alternative. Verizon won't reveal any subscriber numbers, but tells us "phones are most definitely ringing." The company says it had a busy weekend and is expecting a very busy week ahead; it's moved around staff to take additional calls and to complete installations. Another piece of anecdotal evidence: there were lines at FiOS kiosks at malls in the New York metro area. It isn't cold hard numbers, but it's pretty powerful anecdotal evidence.

It's blackouts like this one and the ABC blackout right ahead of the Academy Awards — can make a huge difference for a new service like FiOS. There's huge inertia when it comes to cable subscriptions, which is why an outage like this one is just what it takes to get consumers to switch.

DirecTV is another natural winner as consumers hunt for easy ways to get their favorite shows. The website is full of one-time offers for free ShowTime, and the promise of no startup costs. DirecTV says its too early to tell if they'll see a notable jump in numbers. But again anecdotally, DirecTV says it's seeing significant chatter in social media — a quick survey of Twitter finds plenty of Tweets about making the switch to "@DirecTV" about making the move to the satellite TV option.

And those consumers too lazy to make the switch — or too confident that the negotiations will wrap up soon — are just hanging out in local bars. A number of proprietors are boasting their satellite TV access to lure frustrated Cablevision subscribers.

Questions? Comments?