Usually, when industry titans do battle, it’s a good thing for consumers (patent wars notwithstanding). Companies scramble to outdo each other, one-upping the competition’s latest product and forcing down prices, and begging for our loyalty and money. In the TV world, unfortunately, the sniping and quarreling only serve to tick everyone off and suck in innocent bystanders, like an ugly divorce where each partner tries to enlist the support of the kids by bad-mouthing the other.
The latest scrum is between DirecTV and Viacom over an expiring distribution agreement; apparently, the two sides can’t agree on a fair renewal price. Viacom took a swing late last night with a press release announcing that a whopping 26 channels carried by DirecTV were in jeopardy of going dark at midnight tonight if DirecTV didn’t agree to terms. (Viacom pointed out that the expiring deal is seven years old.) DirecTV struck back on Facebook with a post decrying Viacom’s tactics, saying that agreeing to Viacom’s terms would result in a 30% increase in costs to customers.
Daniel Tosh, sucked into the propaganda machine
Both sides appear to have a valid argument against the other, but the larger point is that dumping on your customers isn’t a very smart way to do business. Considering that many users are already considering switching from traditional satellite and cable pay-TV offerings to online-only options (especially in the summer, when most of our favorite shows are on hiatus), it might behoove both DirecTV and Viacom to sort out their differences behind closed doors. It’s in both of their best interests to do so.
Channels in jeopardy of going dark tonight include MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, Spike, TV Land, CMT, and Logo. If you want to parse out the situation for yourself, the companies’ respective websites on the issue are whendirectvdrops.com