Charter Communications Refuses To Air Antenna Manufacturer's Ad

from the the-'plug-ears-and-chant-loudly'-business-model dept

There’s a lot of talk about “cord cutting” going around. On one hand, the techier side of the spectrum feels this is the new normal and that it spells out the eventual demise of cable companies. On the other hand, cable companies are stating loudly that this isn’t happening and displaying chart after chart of flat (or slightly declining) subscriber counts as evidence that things are still “pretty OK.” In between, you have the public, which is blessed with more options for content consumption than ever before. Sure, many of them still have a cable line running to the house, but it’s debatable how much of that piped-in content is being consumed via the cable box. After all, most cable providers are also ISPs, which brings content into the home via services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Cable and satellite companies have long fought against having to inform its current (and potential) customers that their services aren’t needed to receive free, over-the-air TV. This is why many networks are battling antenna manufacturer Aero in court — to protect the carriage fees they receive from cable companies. If the cable companies lose subscribers, they lose these fees. Cable companies aren’t happy about these antenna manufacturers either, and are pushing back by limiting the reach of their advertising. Vidiot sends in this GigaOM story about Antennas Direct and its run-in with Charter Communications.

You don’t need a cable subscription to watch ABC, CBS or NBC – but don’t expect to learn about alternatives if you’re a Charter customer. Over-the-air antenna maker Antennas Direct recently wanted to buy some air time on Charter‘s cable channels to explain how TV viewers can access these channels without a pay TV subscription.

“We thought it was a fairly benign message,” Antennas Direct President Richard Schneider told me Thursday. Charter disagreed – and rejected the spot for competitive reasons.

While Antennas Direct may compete somewhat with Charter’s core business, its purchasers are limited to free, over-the-air channels. Charter offers many channels (along with phone and internet services) unavailable over the air, along with premium offerings. Someone knocking a handful of channels out of the hundreds available shouldn’t be a concern — unless cord cutting is more a threat than these companies want to admit. Charter’s refusal to air this aid is an implicit admission that cord cutting is more of a problem than it’s willing to state in public. As Richard Schneider, president of Antennas Direct, points out in a blog post at the company’s site: “When a multi-million dollar antenna company can strike fear into the heart of a 7 billion dollar giant, you know your message has merit.”

Along with giving people a viable reason to ditch their cable subscriptions, these antennas offer something else the cablecos can’t: uncompressed HD. Ever-expanding channel lineups have run headlong into bandwidth limits, forcing cable companies to compress their HD offerings. Not that you’d know it from cable company advertisting or their channel lineups, which list dozens of HD channels, most of which are delivered in less-than-true-HD form with compression that can run anywhere from 1-40%.

So, while there’s nothing wrong with Charter’s actions from a business perspective, blocking a few “competitor’s” ads isn’t going to save it for long. After all, more and more people are getting their advertising (and other information) from a variety of screens, rather than relying on TV broadcasts. This ad shutdown does nothing for Charter and gives Antennas Direct a huge boost in publicity. Maybe it would have been smarter to just let these ads run in their “normal” environment, commercial breaks, where the message would have become background noise for fridge runs and bathroom breaks. Instead, Charter has allowed Antennas Direct to walk away with the win and spead its message to savvy internet users, most of who are more than happy to ditch services they find incomplete, limiting or unnecessarily expensive.

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Companies: antennas direct, charter communications

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Comments on “Charter Communications Refuses To Air Antenna Manufacturer's Ad”

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Anonymous Coward says:

As one who long ago cut the cord, I really don’t care if they own up to it or not. What I see is I no longer am paying an outrageous monthly fee.

I no longer own a tv and don’t want one in my house. It’s nothing but an extreme annoyance of constant state of bombardment over commercials and ads. I can do without that and have a much more peaceful life.

Best yet, I don’t have to pay for such dubious entertainment with no value at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here’s my thoughts on the whole denial.
1. It does compete with basic channels and that does cut the bottom line for Charter.
2. With people leaving cable channels for online viewing, it’s forcing the ISP side to invest in infrastructure to support online viewing.
3. Like Mike stated, they seem to be shortsighted and believed that loosing the few customers from the commercials was more beneficial than giving the company a huge advertizing boost in viral ads they will probably see now.

I’d say it’s a big win for Antennas Direct, they get more ad views and no loss in revenue to Charter to air their ads…

out_of_the_blue says:

Really? "Savvy internet users" don't know about TV antennas?

Have you kids already lost that much of everyday knowledge? — Hadn’t thought on it, but likely so. Kind of shocking.

This may be news, then: You can go to a local Radio Shack or even less specialized retailers and get an antenna for less than the $195 package from this place catering to “savvy internet users”. (THOUGH to be fair, having all in one package with amplifier and instructions is SOME value for those who’ve never done it before.) But in urban places an UN-amplified omni-directional may be better than the package I looked at.

Jim L (profile) says:

I cut the cord

The cable companies are lying. It was 4 years for me without cable in Feb. Never miss anything that I want to watch. Back then I was out of work and cable just was an expensive luxury. I knew of no one else cutting the cord, but these days I meet others all the time.

I have a good antenna on the roof and even here in Pittsburgh, with all it’s hills I get over 30 channels. 10 or 12 that I actually watch.

A dedicated laptop with a wireless mouse is my set top box, DVR, and DVD/Blu-ray player (that I never use any more). I also have a 4TB hard drive on the network that has more movies & TV shows in it than I’ll ever watch.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I cut the cord

exactly, cable companies, like the satellite TV here in Australia, once you have it for a year or so, you find it’s chock full of old, old and very old stuff, endlessly repeated.

I had satellite for a few years, left it for 10 years, then had it again, it was the exact same programming !!!! rubbish..

I already pay for the adds that come with free to air programming, and for the station to make money off the adds they need viewers (not prepaid clients), therefore the quality of the programming has to be better for that reason.

Everyone pays for the adds that are on free to air, you pay for them by paying higher purchase prices for every product you buy..

why pay twice.

Free to air, only means it’s provided free, you still pay for it..

With every purchase you make..

Rob Graves (from Australia) (profile) says:

Re: Re: I cut the cord

The re-runs on FTA tv in Australia are just as old (at least on the multi-channel options). We went to satellite 12 years ago and have never looked back. We never watch the commercial FTA channels.

BTW, HD TV is heavily compressed whether over cable, satellite or broadcast. Bandwidth will always be a problem.

BTW2, FTA, cable or satellite, I think that internet TV will blitz the lot soon.

Anonymous Coward says:

how often do you see adds for shows that are airing on another station.

in the real world it is common for a company to not want to advertise for their competition, they have every right to choose on a commercial or ethical basis not to engage certain clients.

In the real work, in the TD world everything is something… !!!!!

bshock says:

how accurate are cable statistics?

I moved to Sunnyvale, California last year and needed high-speed Internet. Yes, of course, Comcast was the only game in town (unfortunately). But they gave me a significantly cheaper deal for taking basic cable tv channels along with the Internet connection.

So for the last year I’ve had the potential for cable tv, but never actually hooked it up to a monitor. I haven’t watched television for many years now, but if you asked Comcast, I would be one of their happy little tv customers. I wonder how many other people are in my situation.

special-interesting (profile) says:

The cost benefit ratio for cable is way off kilter. The only channel worth watching is the weather channel (and thats getting to comercial-y also.) Just tossing off an unofficial rating on the worth of such an offering: $1-3/month. 10/m (maybe) for basic. Wont pay more and in fact feel that ALL the channels, movie ones too, should be included for that price. Antennas are awesome!

Cable is getting to possessive about how anyone can watch TV also. Clamcast now requires that all TV’s have to use a set top box for any use over basic of which there is a fee for each, of course, also. Its possibly going to a point where your cable firm knows what and when you are watching. Don’t want to use their silly remote with the expensive looking, over sized ?on demand? button and like the one that came with the TV much better. The tuner was better also.

For these and other reason have cut the cord long ago. The bill was usually around 100-150/month for the few channels watched out the the huge bundles had to purchase. Have saved literally thousands in fact its getting closer to a five digit savings! It seems to me that this is another form of copyright extortion by high media overcharging. (the damned things were already paid for once)

So they cost to much, provide questionable service(s), are a potential privacy leak, force unwanted equipment on subscribers, force subscribers to pay for said unwanted equipment, put the one channel we want into a huge money wasting bundle, …

Anonymous Coward says:

As a charter customer, I can say this:
They have their faults, but…

They have never notified me of a bandwidth cap.
They don’t bow to the pressures of RIAA and as far as I know, aren’t a member of the 6 strikes rule coalition.
I tend to have very few problems with my service.

Sure, the DVR sucks and I was a little pissed when they disconnected me when my neighbor switched to dish, but as a whole they aren’t a bad provider.

As a whole, they’ve stuck up for me. So I’m going to give them a pass when they decide not to air commercials for an antenna company.

jeremy lansman (profile) says:

That antenna won't work on all stations.

The antenna pictured in the advertisement is unable to operate on VHF channels 2-6, and will not do well on 7-13. To operate properly an antenna must have a minimum dimension of 1/2 wavelength. Channel 2 has an 18 foot wavelength, channel 6 is about 11. So, this company, antennas direct, leaves out an important bit of information. To see a list of channel 2-6 Google:
List of low-band DTV stations in the USA –

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