The showdown continues between media giants Viacom and DirecTV as the the two sides continue to be unable to reach a new contract agreement, resulting in all of Viacom’s networks (including MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon) to be unavailable to DirecTV subscribers since Tuesday night at midnight. In reaction to their subscribers outrage over not being able to see certain programs, DirecTV posted a list of “Other ways to watch” Viacom programming that included links to the programs that offered full episodes streaming on network sites. In an apparent reaction to those links, Viacom has since removed recent full-episode streaming content for some of its shows, including Teen Mom, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report.
Here is the error message that shows up when attempting to view The Colbert Report:
And after trying to watch the most recent episode of Teen Mom, I received a message that read, “We’re sorry, this video isn’t currently available but will be soon.”
DirecTV seems to have picked up on the change and doesn’t appear to have the networks’ sites listed any longer, although they do still have links to pay-per-view streaming sites such as Hulu, iTunes and Amazon. They also provide a list of “Other Shows You Might Enjoy on DIRECTV” that included these suggestions for Teen Mom fans:
Keeping Up With The Kardashians
Pregnant in Heels
For those of you that missed it, just before last night’s midnight cut off, DirecTV and Viacom were scrolling competing propaganda across the bottom of the screen proclaiming how greedy the other party was in the dispute and how they were doing everything within reason to assure fans would be able to continue watching their favorite Viacom programming, blah, blah, blah. It was almost as hilarious as it was annoying as I missed out on the subtitles for numerous conversations during Teen Mom!
Here is a complete list of Viacom networks currently not available to DirecTV subscribers:
In addition to their aggressive campaigning on their own sites, it appears that both Viacom and DirecTV have spent a great deal of the money in question to buy up advertising to promote their arguments! Just do a Google search for Nickelodeon, or Teen Mom, or DirecTV and in almost every instance the top two “paid” search results are competing ads from Viacom and DirecTV. Here’s an example of the results when I searched for “Nickelodeon:”
If you’re not up to speed on the two sides of the argument, Viacom is renewing its contract for the first time in seven years and is asking for a 30% increase (reportedly close to one billion dollars). They claim that their networks account for 20% of DirecTV viewership. DirecTV says the 30% increase is too much and it would force them to raise their rates dramatically. (You can read their more in-depth arguments here.)
In the end it all sounds like a big bad pissing match that will play a huge part in the percentages of revenue involved in similar negotiations in the future. Prior to the deadline I think DirecTV had the upper hand as far as the court of public opinion, but now it appears the tables have turned as Viacom seems to be holding all the cards. They’re getting tons of publicity for their networks and shows, and the worst case scenario is that they lose out on 20% or so of their viewership for the immediate future. DirecTV subscribers are going to go from slightly annoyed to downright angry if this doesn’t get fixed soon, and if it starts to look as though a deal isn’t going to get done, this will cripple DirecTV’s ability to sign new subscribers.
I suppose there is a possibility the two sides will agree on some sort of premium pricing package for DirecTV subscribers that wish to have Viacom networks, but you know DirecTV doesn’t want that! (Dish Network would eat that up in their marketing campaign! “Do you realize watching Dora the Explorer will cost you and extra $20 a month on DirecTV?”)
Either way, what started out as yet another seemingly amusing DirecTV contract showdown has suddenly become a lot more serious. I have DirecTV and if this thing doesn’t go away soon I’m going to have to switch because my job literally depends on it! (It’s hard to offer up commentary on Big Ang amd Snooki & JWoww when I can’t watch the episodes!) So enough with the silliness, I’m sure there is some way to slice up those billions that makes everyone happy!