The weeks-long dispute between FOX and Cablevision rages on and, despite some last minute negotiating that gave some people hope, negotiations have broken down and Game 1 of the World Series will not appear on Cablevision. Predictably, each side blames the other, with FOX calling Cablevision’s last offer “a publicity stunt” and Cablevision accusing FOX of negotiating in bad faith.
While it’s easy to see this as a battle of two big companies motivated by greed — which happens to be partially true, of course — there’s a lot more going on here. We’re in the middle, or maybe at the beginning, of a fundamental shift in how content gets delivered. Content companies like FOX are increasingly able to bypass cable companies like Cablevision. There are already a handful of ways for viewers to bypass the cable companies and get that content — HD antennas and live streaming come to mind — and as time goes on there will be even more and easier ways to accomplish this. The people who provide the content will be able to flex their muscles more and more as they find themselves with greater leverage over cable providers, and as such, we’re going to continue to see this story play out.
Not that that makes Cablevision subscribers who want to watch Cliff Lee take on Tim Lincecum tonight feel any better.