Nearly two weeks after twenty plus million DirecTV customers lost access to 17 Viacom provided channels, the two companies have finally decided to be grown ups and bury the hatchet. Thankfully, they didn't bury it in each other's backs this time.
The new carriage agreement was reached yesterday, and saw popular channels like MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and SpikeTV immediately return the lineups of millions of annoyed DirecTV customers. While most assumed that it wouldn't be too long before the two sides reconciled, as of only a few days ago, industry inside sources had leaked that both companies had walked away from the negotiating table in disgust. Obviously, either those sources were mistaken, or DirecTV and Viacom both realized that the fight was hurting the public image of both media giants. Of course, neither company will admit to any wrong doing.
Viacom released the following statement to the public - "Viacom today announced that the company has reached a long-term agreement to renew carriage with DIRECTV. All 26 Viacom networks, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, CMT, Logo, Spike, TV Land, MTV2, VH1, VH1 Classic, Palladia, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, TeenNick, Tr3s and Centric, will return to DIRECTV’s channel lineup immediately. As part of the overall carriage agreement, DIRECTV has an option to add the EPIX service to its entertainment offerings. Viacom is extremely pleased to bring its programming back to DIRECTV subscribers, and thanks everyone affected by the disruption for their patience and understanding during this challenging period."
If you're wondering why Viacom is saying they restored access to 26 networks, it's due to them counting the available HD feeds of the 17 main channels as separate properties. Ah, corporate spin-doctoring, a corporation's best friend.
DirecTV released their own, significantly longer statement - "DIRECTV has reached a new long-term agreement with Viacom to restore 17 channels (including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, Spike, CMT, TV Land and ten other channels) that Viacom had taken away from DIRECTV customers on July 10. Viacom has returned all affected networks. Financial terms were not disclosed. In addition to the channels’ return, DIRECTV customers will also gain the ability to see Viacom programming on tablets, laptops, handhelds and other personal devices via the DIRECTV Everywhere platform. Carriage of the EPIX movie channel is not required as part of the new agreement.
“We are very pleased to be able to restore the channels to our customers and thank them for their unprecedented patience and support,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president of Content Strategy and Development for DIRECTV. “It’s unfortunate that Viacom took the channels away from customers to try to gain leverage, but in the end, it’s clear our customers recognized that tactic for what it was. The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won’t get them a better deal. It’s high time programmers ended these anti-consumer blackouts once and for all and prove our industry is about enabling people to connect to their favorite programs rather than denying them access.”
Also, a much smaller dispute between Time Warner Cable/Brighthouse Networks and Hearst Communications has been quietly resolved as well. The disagreement had seen local NBC and CW affiliates blacked out in fourteen different American markets. I didn't think this story warranted its own piece, but I figured I would mention it for anyone who might be interested.
Are you glad Viacom and DirecTV resolved their issues, or did one side cave too easily?