When I first volunteered to write this article I had already made up my mind that I was on the side of Viacom. I have personal issues with DirecTV and I was certain this entire situation was all their fault. Then I did some research and what I found really didn’t surprise me, but it did open my eyes to the level of corporate greed in the world today.
To recap the events of the past couple of days, Viacom, who owns such cable networks as Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, SPIKE, LOGO and BET, has been in a dispute with DirecTV over the cost of carrying their networks. It boils down to this: Viacom wants more money and DirecTV doesn’t want to pay it. It is as simple as that. Both are playing hardball with this but Viacom upped the stakes by demanding that DirecTV stop carrying their networks by midnight on Tuesday. DirecTV called their bluff and at ten minutes to midnight, nearly 26 Viacom owned networks went dark for DirecTV subscribers.
This isn’t that uncommon an occurrence these days. All major cable or satellite TV providers have had this happen. Usually it comes down to the wire, then either one side or the other caves and nothing in interrupted. However this isn’t always the case. DirecTV dropped G4 a few years ago because of a similar dispute and Dish Network recently dropped AMC.
What is really sad and infuriating about this is that the only loser in this situation is us, the viewers. We are the ones who ultimately pay the price either by accepting rate hikes or the loss of programming. Being old enough to remember when television service was free, I find it rather appalling that we now have to pay exorbitant sums to watch TV and we are held hostage by the likes of DirecTV and Viacom while they play out their greedy little games.
I started this article by saying I wanted to blame DirecTV for this entire mess, but in this case it is both Viacom and DirecTV who share the blame. Both are being greedy and both are now holding you (since I am no longer a DirecTV subscriber) as a hostage in their little war. Who’s going to give in? It is hard to say because no matter what happens, once again the only real loser will be the viewers.
The nearly 20 million DirecTV subscribers are no longer watching Viacom programming and that is bad for Viacom and its advertisers. DirecTV is no longer providing channels like MTV, BET, Comedy Central and many others. That is bad for them because they are in danger of losing customers to competitors. Corporate greed started this problem and it looks like only corporate greed can solve the problem.
It’s easy for me to be smug in all of this by happily saying I dumped DirecTV just three short weeks ago for another provider. But it is only a matter of time before my current provider gets into a similar dispute with another network. I could be where DirecTV customers are right now, missing my favorite programming because of a squabble over money.
Both companies will compel you to contact the other and shame them for what they are doing. In reality, both companies should be shamed for what they have allowed to happen. It’s all just a game that we are all caught up in. A game that goes on and on and on. The players will change, the game remains the same. We can only put a stop to it by refusing to play.
As reported on The Hollywood Reporter today, the two media companies have come to an agreement, ending an almost two week stand-off that left DirecTV viewers without Viacom owned networks.
“In addition to the channels’ return, DirecTV customers will also gain the ability to see Viacom programming on tablets, laptops, handhelds and other personal devices via the DirecTV Everywhere platform,” the satellite TV company said. “Carriage of the Epix movie channel is not required as part of the new agreement.”
Viacom said it “is extremely pleased to bring its programming back to DirecTV subscribers and thanks everyone affected by the disruption for their patience and understanding during this challenging period.”