Viacom And DirectTV Settle Dispute

The dispute which caused DirectTV subscribers to lose access to 17 Viacom channels has been resolved:

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — DirectTV subscribers who want their MTV, Sponge Bob SquarePants or comedian Jon Stewart are getting their wish.

Viacom Inc. and the satellite TV service provider said Friday that they have settled a dispute that had cut off access to 17 Viacom channels for DirectTV subscribers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon had been inaccessible to some 20 million DirecTV customers since July 10 as the two companies haggled over how much DirecTV should pay to carry those channels.

A day later Viacom also shut off access to full-length episodes on its own websites such as MTV.com and ComedyCentral.com to all visitors, even those who had no stake in the dispute. That was apparently in response to DirecTV telling its U.S. subscribers where they could find programs on the Internet that they could no longer watch on TV.

With viewers frustrated by the lack of accessibility, Viacom decided on Tuesday to let new episodes of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” be shown on its websites, easing the blockade of online viewings that it imposed last week. The move came a day after both shows resumed new episodes following a two-week hiatus.

As part of the new long-term deal, DirecTV Group Inc. subscribers will also be able to see Viacom shows on tablets, laptops and other devices using DirecTV’s Everywhere platform.

While the two companies have struck a deal, DirecTV made it clear that it was not happy with what had transpired.

“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,” Derek Chang, executive vice president of content strategy and development for DirecTV, said in a statement.

It was clear that the dispute would be resolved eventually. Viacom doesn’t want to lose access to viewers, and DirectTV doesn’t want to annoy its subscribers, so there was an incentive for both parties to resolve the matter. The question is what the terms of the settlement were. I would suspect that Viacom pretty much got what it was asking for in the end, because it’s the content providers that hold all the cards in these situations.

 

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    I’m not sure that Viacom held all the cards. After all, the DIFFERENCE between what DirecTV wanted to pay and Viacom’s demand amounted to more than a billion dollars a year. That means, presumably, that they were losing tens of millions of dollars a day during the holdout on content that they’ve already paid for or were on the hook to pay for.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    My prediction from your July 11 post on this topic:

    “…I bet they’re back on DTV inside a week and a half…”

    9 days is inside a week and a half.
    DTV has too many subscribers for Viacom to just write it off.
    I did not miss any of the programming…but I did catch a couple Jon Stewart segments that other websites carried.