Verizon Communications and Viacom have reached a pact under which the programmer — whose properties include MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central — has granted national rights to distribute Viacom content to Verizon Wireless customers.
Neither company would elaborate on what programming, exactly, will be available to Verizon Wireless. The telco expects to launch a wireless TV service late in the first half of 2015, which would combine broadcast networks and an a-la-carte collection of cable and digital media channels, CEO Lowell McAdam said at an investor conference last month.
The agreement is part of a larger renewal agreement, which covers continued carriage of 25 Viacom networks on FiOS TV and additional rights for Verizon’s pay-TV service.
According to Verizon, Viacom is among several “major programmers” that have entered rights deals for the forthcoming Verizon Wireless service. A spokesman for the telco declined to identify those or provide additional details.
In September, Viacom announced a deal with Sony to license live and on-demand programming for at least 22 cable networks, including Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central, for Sony’s forthcoming over-the-top TV service in the U.S.
“We’re glad to have reached an agreement with Verizon that covers the full spectrum of viewing options for their customers across platforms, including wireless, and extends our longstanding and productive partnership,” Samantha Cooper, SVP of content distribution for Viacom Media Networks, said in a statement.
Verizon’s planned wireless TV service will be based on tech developed by Intel’s OnCue OTT division, which the telco bought for about $200 million earlier this year after the chipmaker abandoned plans to launch a service competitive with traditional pay-TV packages.
“Disruption in the TV marketplace is happening and Verizon wants to reach agreements with content providers like Viacom that reflect that reality and give people what they want,” added Ben Grad, Verizon’s executive director of content strategy and acquisition. “We are thrilled to extend our long-term distribution partnership with Viacom Media Networks, delivering some of the most recognizable and popular kids, music and entertainment programming available to our customers anytime, anywhere on a variety of platforms from TV to wireless.”
Deal comes as Viacom is locked in a standoff with midsize cable operator Suddenlink Communications, which as of midnight Oct. 1 lost access to the conglom’s cable channels.
Under the deal between Verizon and Viacom, FiOS TV will continue to carry 25 networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, Spike, TV Land and CMT, as well as Viacom joint-venture services Epix and Aapka Colors.
Additionally, Verizon FiOS customers will have access to all of Viacom’s networks — live and on-demand — in and out of the home, starting in early 2015, via the FiOS Mobile app. FiOS customers can already access live feeds of most of the Viacom networks inside the home via the FiOS Mobile app. Also under the new agreement, Verizon FiOS will enable dynamic ad insertion across all of Viacom’s TV Everywhere and VOD content.
Finally, the deal also lets Verizon distribute Viacom channels “to better match content packaging with consumer preferences,” according to the companies. It’s not clear exactly what that means, but presumably FiOS TV can now move lesser-watched Viacom nets like MTV Hits, Palladia and VH1 Classic to higher-priced tiers.