CBS blackout leads to increased piracy, ratings drop for top shows

By on August 8, 2013, 5:45 PM
piracy, time warner, cbs, ratings

An unresolved dispute between Time Warner and CBS has left millions of cable subscribers without access to CBS programming. As of last Friday, more than three million Time Warner subscribers (as well as Bright House and Dish users) have been without CBS programming which includes the popular Showtime network.

It’s pretty much a given that when you take away legal access to programming, consumers will turn to alternate methods to fill the void. That’s exactly what happened over the course of this week as the blackout has triggered a surge in television show piracy.

To highlight the behavior, TorrentFreak monitored U.S. BitTorrent downloads for the popular CBS show Under the Dome. When comparing data from the week before the blackout with this past Monday’s episode during the blackout, they found piracy increased 34 percent on average. In New York City, the relative piracy rate more than doubled.

Unsurprisingly, the show also recorded a season low ranking this past Monday during the blackout. The program pulled in 10.49 million viewers this week compared to 11.41 million last week.

Ratings aside, the dispute between CBS and Time Warner doesn’t appear any closer to a resolution. Time Warner recently offered to include CBS programming as an a la carte option for subscribers but CBS dismissed the idea as a sham.

Either way, I wouldn't expect this to drag on too much longer as football season is just around the corner and CBS is a key broadcasting partner of the NFL and the SEC.

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