Viacom and US pay-TV operator DirecTV have ended their carriage dispute with a deal that restores Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central to the latter’s airwaves.
Seventeen Viacom nets (26 including HD feeds) had gone dark on DirecTV for nine days after the companies clashed over the remuneration Viacom would receive and it looked like the row would rumble on for some time.
However, the pair has now come to a long-term agreement that restores the channels immediately. The new deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, gives DirecTV the option to add Viacom’s Epix movie channel service to its entertainment package.
DirecTV’s 19.9 million customers will also be able to access Viacom content across tablets, computers, mobiles and other hand-held devices through the DirecTV Everywhere platform.
The deal had seemed a long way off as recently as yesterday but Viacom said it was “extremely pleased” to reach an agreement. Despite expressing its own satisfaction at the deal, DirecTV maintained Viacom was the cause of the dispute.
“We are very pleased to be able to restore the channels to our customers and thank them for their unprecedented patience and support,” said DirecTV’s Derek Chang, executive VP of content strategy and development. “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 recognised that tactic for what it was.”
Viacom claimed it was bargaining for just a “few pennies” extra per customer per day, but DirecTV alleged it had been pushing for a rise of more than 30%, equating to an extra US$1bn on the previous agreement.
Chang today claimed media coverage of the high-profile spat had “accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with black-outs won’t get them a better deal.”
Spats between content providers such as Viacom and pay-TV platforms have become common in the US. Just this month, satellite platform Dish Network pulled cablenet AMC, which airs Breaking Bad and Mad Men, after failing to agree on terms.