Viacom officially 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.
The agreement with Sony marks the media conglom’s first deal to provide its networks for an Internet-based live TV and VOD service. Specific terms of the pact were not disclosed.
The announcement comes a year after word of a tentative pact between the two first leaked out. Sony said its cloud-based TV service will offer subscribers Internet-based live TV and video on demand from Viacom — as well as other unspecified programmers.
Dish Network also is assembling a low-priced OTT television service, delivered over the Internet to multiple devices. The satcaster has announced deals for the service with Disney and A+E Networks. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen has said the company has a “critical mass” of programming deals and expects to debut the Internet TV offering by the end of 2014.
Sony previously has said it would begin testing the OTT TV service delivered to PlayStation consoles, Bravia smart TVs and other Sony connected devices sometime in 2014.
“Viacom always strives to create transformational opportunities that combine consumer value and technological innovation,” Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said in a statement. “Given our young, tech-savvy audiences, our networks are essential for any new distribution platform, and we’re excited to be among the many programmers that will help power Sony’s new service and advance a new era for television.”
The development is positive not only for Viacom, but for the entire TV programming sector, RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank wrote in a research note. “With a new player (Sony) entering the marketplace, the new distribution channel will bring new demand for content,” he said.
For now, neither Sony nor Dish have revealed specific pricing, availability or the full content lineup for their respective services. In announcing the Viacom deal, Sony said it will provide more details about the service “in the near future.”
“Our new cloud-based TV service will combine the live TV content people love most about cable with the dynamic experience they have come to expect from our network,” said Andrew House, group executive for Sony’s Network Entertainment Business. “Viacom’s award-winning networks are a perfect match for our new service, ensuring that our customers will be able to access the shows they love on their favorite devices, when and how they choose.”
According to Sony, there are currently more than 75 million Internet-enabled Sony devices in U.S. households.
At least 22 Viacom linear networks will be on Sony’s OTT service at launch, including: BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, Spike, TV Land and VH1, BET Gospel, Centric, Logo, CMT Pure Country, MTV Hits, MTV James, mtvU, Palladia, TeenNick, Vh1 Classic and Vh1 Soul. All the networks will be available in HD.
Sony also has rights to Viacom’s full VOD package — the same bundle it distributes through current cable, satellite and telco TV partners.
In addition, Viacom’s deal with Sony encompasses authenticated access to hundreds of hours of programming on the media company’s TV Everywhere websites and apps to subscribers of Sony’s OTT service. Currently, Viacom has released TV Everywhere apps for Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, CMT and Logo.