September 21, 2019
CBS and Time Warner Cable are in the middle of a nasty little spat over retransmission fees, and consumers are caught in the middle. Time Warner has dropped all CBS channels until the situation is resolved. Included in the blackout are CBS, Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix, and Smithsonian Channel. To retaliate, CBS has blocked Time Warner internet users from accessing its programming online. So what’s a video-hungry consumer to do? Yep, torrents.By at least one measure, the CBS-Time Warner fight is causing CBS content to be torrented at a markedly higher rate. According to TorrentFreak, the CBS series Under the Dome has seen rates of piracy spike by 34% since the shutdown. At the same time the show’s ratings have started to drop off, falling almost 10% last week.This probably indicates it doesn’t take much to get people to pirate content. As long as watching something the legitimate way is slightly more convenient, people will do it. But if you take away that option, they flood back to the torrent swarm. It’s a problem HBO has been dealing with for years with its content behind an expensive cable paywall. Although, the company has indicated it’s not bothered by piracy even though Game of Thrones it the most pirated show on the internet.We should take care not to chalk all the Under the Dome piracy spike to Time Warner customers, but the blackout does coincide exactly with the piracy spike. Someone’s going to blink first, but it looks like viewers aren’t being held hostage with all those torrents available.