Cable One has inked a deal to keep KOAM and Fox 14 on its system, according to this morning's Joplin Globe.
That definitely puts a kink in Nexstar Broadcasting's strategy of holding the possibility of the loss of all local affiliates over Cable One's head.
Maybe someone is seeing something I don't see in this, but as far as the Joplin market is concerned, it appears Nexstar's gambit of pulling KSNF and KODE from Cable One has failed. Nexstar CEO Perry Sook keeps telling people that other local stations are going to back his company's strategy of demanding payment for retransmission rights, but so far it simply has not happened.
Undoubtedly, Cable One took a hit when many of its customers unhooked their cable and opted for satellite, but nearly all of that traffic came during the few weeks after Jan 1 when the KSNF and KODE programming was pulled off Cable One. Some people bought antennas or were given antennas by Cable One so they could continue to watch the stations, while others found they could live quite nicely without them.
Nearly everyone who is going to leave cable has already done so.
Therefore, what has happened to the local stations as a result of the Nexstar-Cable One standoff?
-KODE and KSNF took an initial hit on their credibility for their shameless slanting of the news as far as the Cable One situation was concerned and their constant promos for satellite television that masqueraded as news. This was something that lowered morale among the stations' news departments because they knew full well they were not providing their viewers with balanced coverage. The news programs have bounced back nicely since that time and appear to be back on an even keel.
-Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of viewers who never watched KOAM's news, had the opportunity to sample it and many of them were happy with what they saw and have remained with the station at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. Even if Cable One and Nexstar, were to reach an agreement today, some of those people are not going to return to KODE or KSNF. I was one of those viewers, as I have admitted before. I did not watch KOAM because I was under the mistaken impression that it spent considerably more time covering Kansas news rather than Missouri news. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was mistaken. I liked the news with Dowe Quick and Rhonda Justice, and even though I have an antenna and continue to watch the other stations, on nights when I am working on something else or simply don't feel like using the antenna, I end up watching KOAM. I also had never watched the KOAM Morning show since the days of Toby and Andy, when it was the only morning show. I had been content with Tiffany Alaniz and Gary Bandy on KSNF and Malorie Maddox and Alan Matthews on KODE. I had already lost much of my early affection for those morning programs when many of the replacements for the aforementioned reporters turned out to be lacking in a number of areas, but I had continued to watch KODE or KSNF. Now that I have sampled the smooth, professional job that Sarah Pierik and Dave Pylant do on KOAM's morning show, it is going to be hard to get me back to the other stations (I almost guarantee you that if KSNF were on still on Cable One, I would be watching Toni Valliere and Lucas McDonald on KSNF and missing the one person in local TV, Miss Pierik, whose horizons appear to be limitless.
-Nexstar has already lost advertising revenue and I doubt if that situation gets any better. If the situation continues into 2006, it will be interesting to see if there is a different distribution of political advertising since KODE and KSNF cannot be seen on Cable One's systems in Joplin, Independence, and Miami, and will likely disappear from local Cox Communications systems, as well.
The upside would be great for Nexstar if it developed that much-desired second stream of revenue from selling retransmission rights, but it appears the odds are against that happening in the Joplin market.