After 10 days, DirecTV and Viacom have finally settled their dispute and Viacom’s channels have been restored to DirecTV’s 20 million subscribers, according to Deadline.
There’s little available about the terms, but it appears that the deal is long term and allows DirecTV the option of adding Viacom’s movie channel, Epix. Negotiations over the movie channel had apparently been the sticking point as recently as two days ago. DirecTV customers will now also be able to watch Viacom programming on their tablets and iPhones via DirecTV’s Everywhere Platform, which means that you can now watch Spongebob Squarepants while you’re on the crapper.
We’re not sure what brought the two sides together, but it was clear that Viacom was taking a hit both financially — ratings for Nickelodeon were down 20 percent, and Viacom shares had dropped two percent — and in the PR war. DirecTV had done a great job of positioning the dispute, and many were convinced it was Viacom’s fault (DirecTV even had the backing of Jon Stewart).
Moreover, while DirecTV did agree to settle, it wasn’t backing off of its strong stand against Viacom. DirecTV made this statement in a press release.
“The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won’t get them a better deal. It’s high time programmers ended these anti-consumer blackouts once and for all and prove our industry is about enabling people to connect to their favorite programs rather than denying them access.”
I might add that if the cable providers like DirecTV were really and truly concerned about what was best for the consumer, they’d offer more specialized packages of channels, instead of bundling 25 unwanted channels with every one we want.
Mostly, I think what this dispute has taught us all just how unimportant cable really is to many of our lives. With The Daily Show still available online, Comedy Central’s absence barely affected me, and since there are very few programs outside of sports that are need to be watched live — Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Mad Men — most of us could easily sever the cord if programming were made available online, even at a cost that most of us are willing to pay.