Verizon FiOS is throwing a bone to CBS employees who can no longer watch the network in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas because of the broadcaster's fight with Time Warner Cable.
In a memo to staffers, CBS said Verizon FiOS is offering employees "exclusive discounts and special promotions." Verizon is even going to send sales teams to CBS offices in those cities this week to sign up new customers.
Verizon's push to poach CBS staffers comes as the CBS-Time Warner Cable blackout enters its third week. Time Warner Cable stopped carrying CBS-owned media properties, including KBCS-TV Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles, on Aug. 2.
Although Time Warner Cable and CBS continue to negotiate, there has been little progress. The issue is not just that CBS wants Time Warner Cable to pay more for carrying its channels. The two are also at odds over how CBS makes it content available to other digital providers such as Amazon and Netflix.
During previous disputes between a programmer and distributor that led to a blackout, it was not unusual for a rival distributor to try to use the situation as an opportunity to pick up dissatisfied consumers. Some would even run ads in local newspapers encouraging people to drop their current pay-TV provider if they wanted to get all their favorite channels.
However, in recent years that has not been the case. DirecTV, for example, actually put out a statement supporting Time Warner Cable in its fight with CBS.
CBS meanwhile noted last week that Time Warner Cable has endured 17 straight quarters of video subscriber losses. "Subscribers have been leaving in droves," the network said.
With the U.S. Open and the NFL regular season just around the corner, Time Warner Cable customers who are sports fans might start getting more vocal about the two companies coming to terms on a new distribution pact.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.
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