Usually it’s the programmer panel that creates the most fireworks at the NCTC annual meeting. But this year, Cable One’s Tom Might gave an entertaining lunchtime speech that overshadowed the normally heated panel that followed it. Might’s message: small operators shouldn’t be scared to let broadcasters pull their stations in retrans disputes. During a speech that openly mocked Nexstar Broadcasting execs who pulled broadcast stations in 3 Cable One markets during an ongoing retrans fight, Might detailed ratings and financial information that showed the broadcaster has been hurt much worse than the MSO. From Nov to May, Nexstar stations saw a ratings drop of up to 40% for some of its stations. During that same period, Cable One saw a basic subscriber drop of 7% and a combined HSD-video drop of just 4%. "Broadcasters need us more than we need them," Might said. "With the addition of high-speed data and VoIP, cable has the ability to easily replace every lost subscriber and every lost revenue dollar." Might told the independent cable audience that they should trot these stats out "if they have a broadcaster who wants to know what happens when they pull a signal." — It was one of the tamest programming panels in years, as Disney/ESPN’s Sean Bratches, Scripps’ Channing Dawson and Outdoor Channel’s Andy Dale outlined their plans for HD, VOD and broadband. Even the audience questions failed to bring the fervor normally associated with this event. (Does this mean license fee complaints are a thing of the past? What will we have to write about…) For the record, all three are moving forward in HD; none of the three want to give away their content for free VOD; all three are excited about the potential for broadband; and all three want to get their content on cell phones. "I want to be on every screen that’s out there," Dale said. — Disney/ESPN hosted one of the industry’s best parties Mon night, when 1K small cable execs gathered on the retired aircraft carrier USS Midway for an elegant dinner (well, as elegant as any dinner could be when Power Rangers are walking around). The carrier is docked in the San Diego harbor.

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Week 3 of ESPN ’s MNF drew in 14mln viewers, with MNF now up 4% season-to-date from 2019

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