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The CBS Blackout Was a Horror Show for Time Warner Cable

The Dallas Cowboys play against the Houston Texans during a preseason game on Aug. 29
The Dallas Cowboys play against the Houston Texans during a preseason game on Aug. 29Photograph by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Despite Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, Americans still really like their David Letterman, Price is Right, and preseason football. Time Warner Cable lost almost 3 percent of its TV subscribers in the recent quarter, a period that included a month when it didn’t broadcast CBS.

As the TV giants faced off over how much TWC would pay to carry the network, CBS went dark for some 3 million cable customers in New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles. In early September, when fall premieres and the NFL season were nigh, CBS prevailed with a simple negotiating approach: “This will hurt you more than it hurts me”—a line of thinking proved abundantly accurate by this morning’s dismal report from TWC.