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