Why did Direct TV cancel MTV, Comedy Central and 24 other Viacom channels?

A whole new generation is going to be reviving the old slogan “I want my MTV!” as DirecTV is set to cancel the popular network along with 25 other Viacom channels tonight at midnight if the two companies can’t work out an agreement – soon!

UPDATE – As of midnight DirecTV has suspended all the Viacom channels! Click here for the latest in the dispute, that includes Viacom halting the streaming of full episodes of some of their shows!

After doing a bit of research, the two sides in a nutshell are: Viacom wants 30% more money (reportedly close to a billion dollars) than their previous contract, which was signed seven years ago. In the past seven years DirecTV has “doubled its worldwide revenue, tripled its profits and increased its subscriber base by more than 32%.” DirecTV has a history of taking these kinds of showdowns right down to the wire, and they almost always sign a deal at the last minute.

Here’s a funny video spot in which the stars of Viacom’s networks plead for your support:

Viacom is the one claiming 26 total channels, but DirecTV points out they are double-counting HD versions of some networks. The complete list of networks includes Palladia, Centric, Tr3s, CMT, Logo, NickToons, VH1 Classic, TeenNick, Nick Jr., Nick@Nite, Spike, BET, VH1, TV Land, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV.

Here’s Viacom’s argument (from their blog). I will follow that up with some “facts” from DirecTV’s site set up to address the negotiations. (The site has more information broken up into all kinds of sections like “Why this happens,” FAQ, “Other ways to watch” and an unembeddable video from DirecTV CEO Mike White)


Viacom’s distribution agreement with DirecTV is set to expire at midnight on Tuesday, July 10. We’ve been negotiating for months and even offered DirecTV an extension past the agreement’s original June 30th expiration date. As recently as today, we made significant economic movement in direct conversations with DirecTV.

However, despite our best efforts, DirecTV has rejected all of our proposals to renew our agreement. This evening, DirecTV provided Viacom with a counter proposal that included a lower rate than Viacom receives from any other distributor in the industry. With this offer, our negotiations have reached an impasse.

Spongebob Squarepants angry over Viacon DirecTV dispute

This means that, as of tomorrow night, nearly 20 million DirecTV subscribers will be without entertainment from the programmer they watch most. A total of 26 Viacom channels, including Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, CMT, Spike TV, TV Land and more won’t be available.

Our agreement with DirecTV is seven years old – ancient by the standards of the ever-evolving media industry – which means that DirecTV has enjoyed way below market rates for Viacom’s networks for a very long time.

If negotiations remain stalled, DirecTV will drop Viacom’s channels tomorrow tonight. No Dora, no SpongeBob, no Teen Wolf, no 106 & Park, no Daily Show, no Colbert, and no Snooki – a regrettable and avoidable turn of events if there ever was one, and an outcome that our team has worked tirelessly to avoid.

Here’s the official statement from Viacom:

As of midnight on Tuesday, July 10, DirecTV will drop 26 Viacom channels, including Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, CMT, Spike TV, TV Land and more. Viacom is the most watched programmer on DirecTV. Nickelodeon is the most watched cable network on DirecTV. We regret that DirecTV refuses to consider a fair deal that recognizes the value of Viacom programming. We urge DirecTV customers to call 800-531-5000 or visit www.whendirectvdrops.com and demand that DirecTV put its customers first, and keep Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET and all of Viacom’s channels.

Here are some indisputable facts about Viacom and the strength of its networks on DirecTV:

Viacom accounts for 20% of all viewing on DirecTV – more than any other programmer and above the national average for all distributors. Yet Viacom currently accounts for less than 5% of DirecTV’s programming expenses.
Nickelodeon is the #1 most-watched cable network on DirecTV.
Kids in DirecTV homes spend 50% of their viewing time watching Nickelodeon networks.
Over the past three years, Viacom has completed nearly a dozen significant distribution renewal agreements privately and without disruption to consumers.

And here are some indisputable facts about DirecTV:

Over the past three years, DirecTV has fought publicly over carriage agreements with seven different programmers – Fox, Tribune, Diversified Communications, Northwest Broadcasting, Sunbeam, Belo, G4, Versus, and YES Networks – and dropped five of them.
DirecTV is on track to deliver $5 billion in profit in 2012.
Over the seven year life of our expiring deal, DirecTV doubled its worldwide revenue, tripled its profits and increased its subscriber base by more than 32%.

Needless to say, Viacom will continue to work to convince DirecTV to keep our channels, and strike a fair and equitable agreement. Check this space for updates on the situation.

For more information, you can visit the website Viacom has set up to notify consumers of DirecTV’s decision to drop its channels at www.whendirectvdrops.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WhenDirecTVDrops.

Also, we’ll continue to make the spots we’re airing to notify customers of DirecTV’s decision available on our Vimeo page.

Teen Mom Jenelle Evans' mom Barbara Evans tells DirecTV I seen ya tryun ta take my MTV!!!



DIRECTV is not removing Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, TV Land and the other channels Viacom owns. You won’t lose them unless Viacom chooses to take them away. We want you to keep enjoying all your favorite shows on those channels without any interruption, and if Viacom decides to force us to take them down, we’ll show you how you can continue to enjoy your favorite shows in the interim.

DIRECTV is willing to do what it takes to defend our customers when we believe programmers are trying to take advantage of them. We don’t want to see anyone’s bill for TV service more than double. Some channel owners feel they’re entitled to get exorbitant raises year after year after year, even when the value of their programming doesn’t warrant any increase at all. Whether it’s Viacom or anyone else, when they try to extract more money from their viewers without justification, they shouldn’t be so shocked when we actually push back.

You and millions of other families have helped to make DIRECTV the most popular TV provider serving the Americas. Despite the huge number of viewers we bring to their programs, Viacom feels entitled to demand more money from our customers than they do from other TV providers’ customers. We don’t want you to be discriminated against. You shouldn’t have to pay a nickel more than anyone else.

Viacom and DIRECTV both have to share the responsibility of putting you first. DIRECTV wants to end these threats and disruptions once and for all. We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding during these negotiations. We can together help to contain these unwarranted increases and continue to keep your monthly bill low.

Viacom wants you to believe switching from DIRECTV to another TV provider is the answer. What they don’t tell you is that no TV provider is immune to their unfair fee increases. When customers switch TV providers, it only makes it easier for channel owners like Viacom to raise your prices no matter who your TV provider is. By standing firm, DIRECTV has been able to keep your share of these unwarranted increases to 4 percent—lower than any other TV provider.

Find out more from DirecTV’s perspective at www.directvpromise.com

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  • OhMyGeez

    These threats are ridiculous. A new one every week, so it seems.

    • Seth

      Sounds like Directv owners are money hungry savages like the rest of the entertainment world, while the viacom owners are wanted to be treated fairly among the rest of the channel providers.

      This has nothing to do with Viacom causing Directv to “increase” people’s TV bill every month. However this has Everything to do with the upper class’ example of the scum of America, that will never amount to anything higher than the paper in their pockets.

      What could you possibly do with 90 BILLION, that you couldn’t do with 60 Billion?????

      You know how much I would ABSOLUTELY LOOOOOOVE LOVE LOVE…..to have just a small………million dollars?…….

      I would be set for life.

      Corruption is in the air. From the Mansions, to the ghettos. And every single piece of corruption, will have to answer to it.

  • sfoster

    get ready to lose a ton of un happy customers please dont!

  • noname

    yay for dish network!

  • Kait

    ^Dish isnt any better… just a few weeks ago dish was going to drop AMC! which has all of my favorite shows on it (Mad Men, The Killing, Breaking Bad, and Walking Dead)

    • ds

      Yes, but AMC has a habit of putting these shows on demand (on Amazon and such) pretty quickly, so I’d rather wait a few months to see them than switch to a provider that charges double for less channels.

      Funny, Direct is all “don’t switch from us!” when they were trying to swoop in and get Dish’s customers at the start of the AMC thing. I’ve compared my Dish bill (with all 4 movie channels) to my sister’s (Direct with NO premiums) and I’m still paying less than her.

  • Brittany

    I love DirecTV but I love Comedy Central and Spike, so I’ll switch. Their rates are high enough and they’ve increased profits by a large margin, so give Viacom more. Seven years really is a long time and they’ve grown so much since then, so they need to cough it up.

  • Melissa

    looks like me switching to Cox cable last month was a wise decision after all!

    • Moe

      lol she said c0cks!

  • theirloss

    So DirectTV is in the mood to lose a ton of customers. Whatever. I’m sure people are already dumping their stocks just in case.

  • Fester

    I see this as a viacom failure. DirecTV has MY interests at the table. Tell me how they deserve 30% more anything, if the consumer must sacrifice, then so shall the producer. Let Viacom rot.

  • Courtney

    I LOVE the Barbra caption on her picture! Hilarious and genius!!! Lol

  • Caroline

    I think it would be great if some company just let you pay for the chnanels you wanted! Dish, Direct Tv, and cable all seem to be missing a few channels I like unless you pay a fortune for the everything package and then get 100+ useless channels. I have cable because I like being able to have so many tvs hooked up for no additional fees or boxes but I honestly only use 12 of the 82 channels in my basic package.

    • ds

      The thing is a lot of networks FORCE the providers to carry certain channels if they want the “big” ones – the dispute with Dish and AMC is because AMC thinks Dish needs to carry a whole bunch of networks that don’t have strong followings in order to have the privilege of carrying AMC. So if you want providers to have something like “a la carte” then you need to tell the networks (like Viacom) to quit forcing providers to carry channels they don’t want to carry.

  • Jayla

    You guys are lucky to even get a choice! In Australia we have ONE cable network across the entire country,they are extremely overpriced and with no competition we are forced to pay their prices or go without

  • Babyvamp

    This already happened with Directv and Spike, because I remember Ryan Murphy making commercials about it. Its nonsense, they usually come to an agreement in the 11th hour anyway. It honestly pisses me off that they drag customers into THEIR feud over money, as if we care about either side’s point. I’ll keep Directv no matter what because I like it and get great service. When I had Cablevision on the east coast they had these feuds with the networks, you completely lost the channel! That happened until there was literally nothing left to watch lol!

  • polk8dot

    DirecTV does the EXACTLY same dance with EVERY single channel distributor when it’s time to renew carriage agreements.
    They’ve dropped Setanta a couple of years ago (which carried all the soccer games from Europe!), and then they temporarily dropped Versus (shows Tour de France!), Fox networks, etc.
    They have become very adept at this art of scaring the customer into pressuring the distributors, and they have no qualms about bringing the fight directly to the consumer and trying to get them involved, to increase the public opinion pressure and force a deal.
    They let the ‘talks’ expire, let the agreements expire, then they take the channels down for a few hours, while running the crawler message on other channels about the loss. Usually after a few hours the channels get reinstated, and then there is a crawler message for the next few hours about how hard they worked to restore the channels, and how dedicated they are to their customers to actually have forced the new deals to be accepted by the other side.
    And all of this they do simply, purely, an ultimately for OUR GOOD!!!
    They are totally full of crock, and I can’t believe that people are falling for it. They’re making $5B in earnings!!!! Does that not tell anyone that not only are they overcharging their customers by overpricing the channels, but also under-paying the distributors based on old, outdated contract?
    $5B in profits?!?!?! O M G!!!!! And yet, in the end, it does not matter at all, because if forced to accept the requested fee increases from the distributors, DirecTV will simply shove the cost down our throats, and force us to pay more for our contracts, in order to recoup the expense. While all along telling us what a splendid job they did of keeping access to these channels open for us, ‘valued’ customers. What a crock of BS!!

  • Stephanie

    I just finished installing Directtv ,I kid you not, three days ago. And right off the bat as a new customer, completely satisfied with the prices compared to Time Warner’s request for your first born child, and basically all the channels I watch are now cancelled. I don’t care who “wins” get me my channels back. This is ridiculous I switch from one problem to another.

  • amber

    its all about the money… so said how much greed people have in them

  • Monique K

    I don’t even have cable and I think this is ridiculous. This whole ordeal is eerily similar to DirecTV’s 12 months at $49.99 (or some other low price) with a 24 month contract. After 12 months, they hike up the price to nearly triple that rate. I guess it doesn’t feel so good when the shoe is on the other foot.

    I think DirecTV is being cheap. They were lucky to get the Viacom channels for dirt cheap for a 7 year period. They should think of it as a trial period. Now that they can see the value in the channel lineup, they should be more than willing to pay for it. Instead, they would rather throw a temper tantrum, and refuse to pay Viacom what it’s worth. Tsk tsk. With $5 billion dollars in profit, they can afford to pay Viacom without having to hike up their prices. Yet, they’d like us to believe that they can’t. The only thing they can’t do is bare the thought of giving their top executives a $1 million dollar bonus instead of a $2 million bonus. It’s a shame the way they nickel and dime the little people. I wonder if any civil lawsuits will result from their dropping Viacom channels and not letting customers out of their contracts. Only time will tell.