WOW says programmer negotiations as ‘aggressive as ever’


Cable operator WideOpenWest is well aware of the proliferation of streaming video options and it’s actively working to connect its customers with the best fit.

WOW CEO Teresa Elder spoke today at an RBC Capital Markets investor conference and said her company tries to speak with and listen to customers to figure out what kind of content they’re most interested in watching and then match them with appropriate streaming options.

“We’re seeing our customers shift in droves to streaming services,” she said. WOW points its customers toward streaming TV options like YouTube TV, Philo, Sling TV and fuboTV along with its own WOW tv+, an IP-based video service. In July, the company added Chicago, Evansville and Detroit to the list of markets where WOW tv+ is available.

However, many programmers including Disney, WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS have launched their own direct-to-consumer products and Elder said that those services provide WOW with some leverage against “extremely high programming costs.”

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“I mean, they’re just going through the roof and we continue to do all we can to negotiate for the traditional programming services that we provide,” she said.

When asked about how conversations with programmers have shifted as more streaming services enter the market, Elder the discussions have been as “aggressive as ever.”

“That’s just the nature of programming costs, that they’ll continue to go up. So, it’s nice that we have alternatives for the customers and we’re very empathetic with them on these huge programming costs we have to pass onto our customers,” Elder said.

WOW said it still has a large base of video subscribers it’s continuing to serve and that there are some new video subscribers still coming in. However, Elder said that most of its new broadband customers already have streaming as their primary source for video content.

WOW reported total subscribers of 846,300 at the end of the third quarter.