Last year, Time Warner received $16.3 billion from subscribers, and paid $3.7 billion – almost a quarter – to companies such as News Corp (which owns Fox) and NBC Universal. While that seems like a small percentage, Dudley points out that maintaining a national network of cables and wires to deliver the content is pricey.
"It's an ongoing war. Distributors want as much of the money as possible, and the people who create the content want their share," said Carl Howe, director of media consumer research at the Yankee Group. Consumers, meanwhile, are being squeezed on both sides.
"The only way your cable bill will go down," said Howe, "is if you cancel your service."