Viacom Goes to War With AT&T Over DirecTV Carriage Deal

Variety | 3/19/2019 | Cynthia Littleton
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Viacom has declared war against AT&T, blasting the telco giant on several fronts as the companies wrestle over a carriage renewal deal that is vital to Viacom’s long-term financial health.

As of today, Viacom has begun running crawls and promo spots on its channels warning viewers that Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, MTV and other channels could go dark on AT&T’s DirecTV as of midnight ET on Friday, when the current contract expires.

Viacom - Spokesman - AT - T - Everything

A Viacom spokesman accused AT&T of everything from price gouging to discriminating against “diverse audiences” with the channel selections in its latest packages of skinny bundles for the DirecTV Now and Watch TV streaming platforms.

“Unfortunately, AT&T is abusing its new market position by favoring its own content – which significantly underperforms Viacom’s – to stifle competition,” a Viacom spokesman said. “AT&T-DirecTV’s behavior is also consistent with a recent pattern of gouging their customers by charging them higher prices for an inferior product with fewer channels. Especially troubling, AT&T-DirecTV is marginalizing diverse audiences in its new DTV packages and threatening to do the same with their existing products.”

DirecTV - Comment - Battles - Programmers - MVPD

DirecTV could not immediately be reached for comment. Carriage battles between programmers and traditional MVPD distributors have ratcheted in recent years as the pay-TV marketplace has grappled with cord cutting and a flood of low-cost competitors.

The Viacom-DirecTV battle has the makings of a clash of media titans because both companies are under pressure to strike an advantageous deal.

Viacom - Dozen - Cablers - Nation - MVPD

Viacom needs to have its two dozen cablers carried by the nation’s largest MVPD, with about 25 million domestic subscribers. Viacom also needs to make sure that the rates DirecTV pays for its channels aren’t severely reduced. If so, Viacom would take a big revenue hit and it would have a domino effect with other large distributors that have favored-nations provisions in carriage deals that would allow...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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