At midnight on Tuesday, 17 Viacom-owned cable nets like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central went dark on DirecTV after the conglomerate failed to reach a new carriage deal with the satellite provider.
DirecTV customers who wanted their MTV (or their BET, or Spike, or VH1) were met with this message: “Viacom, the owner of this channel, forced DirecTV to suspend it despite our many requests to keep it on. We are working to bring it back as soon as possible without an unfair increase to your bill. Disruptions like this are brief. Go to DirecTVPromise.com for the latest info.” CEO Mike White also taped a message for customers by saying how Viacom wants them to “pay substantially more for all of their networks, even those you don’t watch or care about.”
Viacom described the impasse a little differently by saying it was DirecTV’s decision to drop the major cablers. “We are deeply disappointed that DirecTV dropped Viacom’s channels before our midnight deadline this evening, severing our connection with its nearly 20 million subscribers nationwide,” according to a company statement. “We proposed a fair deal that amounted to an increase of only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber, and we remained willing to negotiate that deal right up to this evening’s deadline.”
The seven-year deal between Viacom and DirecTV just expired. DirecTV says Viacom wants a 30% increase in fees to carry the nets, while Viacom has accused the satellite provider of lowballing the conglomerate — which, admittedly, has seen double-digit ratings drops on its once shining star, Nickelodeon. The kiddie cabler used to routinely trounce the Disney Channel in total day and kids 2-11; now the Mouse House cabler is ruling in total day viewing and the young demo. It certainly helps that Disney has recently launched several new and popular shows like Good Luck Charlie and A.N.T. Farm while Nick hasn’t created a new hit since iCarly, which will go off the air on November.
If that’s not enough to raise the ire of DirecTV, there’s also the issue of how lots of Viacom programming can be accessed for free online.
DirecTV has roughly 20 million subscribers.