Basically, what’s happened now is that Starz has filed a notice with the FCC in order to use the government to try and restore programming to subscribers, claiming that Altice is not making good on their customers’ demands by continuing to take money from consumers without giving them a profit in return. It’s a move that prompted this statement via network CEO Chris Albrecht:
“The filing of today’s petition is the next step in our effort to ensure that Altice subscribers receive the full value of their subscription, including restoration of all Starz channels … Starz has never stopped transmitting its service to Altice and it is time for them to do the right thing by either restoring the service or giving our customers a refund.”
Following this, Altice apparently was in the need for firing some shots of their own:
“Given that Starz is available to all consumers directly through Starz’s own over-the-top streaming service, we don’t believe it makes sense to charge all of our customers for Starz programming, particularly when their viewership is declining and the majority of our customers don’t watch Starz,” Altice said in its statement. “We have offered and remain open to a deal with Starz to offer the content to customers who want it but they refuse.”
This is a weird response from Altice given that we’re not entirely sure it’s true. Outlander is coming off of its most-watched season ever and Power remains a smash hit. They also have a ton of possible hit shows coming including Counterpart, premiering Sunday, starring J.K. Simmons. Why go after Starz’s ratings? Is that in any way productive?
Ultimately, we understand the frustrations of Optimum on some level to have to pay a large sum for channels that not everyone opts to purchase. However, it’s hard to endorse at all the way that they’ve handled this since it’s nothing short of awful. Basically, they’re hiding behind a notice that “channels are subject to change” and claiming that some new channels that few people have ever heard of are somehow comparable to one of the most-popular premium channels on the air. They are losing ground in this and in going to the FCC, Starz can present the argument that they are appealing to customers and caring more about them. Optimum customers have already missed out on new sneak peeks for Power and Outlander, which in turn makes them look worse.
Do we still think that an end is in sight?
Certainly. The funny thing right now is that as bitter as these things may look, this situation will probably be resolved before long and everyone within the two companies will act like it wasn’t testy at all. Still, this is easily turning into the nastiest carriage dispute since the one with AMC and Dish a few years back.
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