Charter puts media companies on notice in bid to save pay-TV bundle

Chris Winfrey, the CEO of Charter Communications, one of the largest cable companies in the U.S., has called for the evolution of the pay-TV bundle model. His comments come in the wake of Disney-owned networks going dark on Charter’s Spectrum service due to disputes over rising fees—a common cause of network blackouts in the industry.

Traditionally, pay-TV blackouts have resulted from disagreements over increased programming fees, with content providers seeking higher rates while pay-TV distributors resist paying more. Major sporting events, like the U.S. Open and the upcoming NFL season, often serve as leverage to prevent channels from going dark during these disputes.

However, Chris Winfrey suggests that this time is different, emphasizing that the pay-TV model is fundamentally broken. Charter Communications, which has 14.7 million customers subscribed to its bundle, recognizes the ongoing decline in traditional pay-TV subscriptions as consumers shift to streaming services and face increasing costs.

While Charter continues to provide traditional cable bundles, the company is exploring ways to adapt to changing consumer preferences. This includes offering flexible packages and improved technology to bridge the gap between streaming and traditional TV. Charter aims to find innovative solutions to retain customers and revitalize the pay-TV bundle, recognizing the need for change in an evolving media landscape.