×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

DirecTV, Viacom Avert Blackout After Marathon Negotiation

DirecTV and Viacom have agreed on a carriage renewal pact covering a raft of Viacom’s cable channels after a marathon negotiation over the weekend.

In a joint statement early Monday, the companies said: “We are pleased to announce a renewed Viacom-AT&T contract that includes continued carriage of Viacom services across multiple AT&T platforms and products. The deal also brings AT&T customers more choice and improved value for Viacom content.”

AT&T is the nation’s single-largest MVPD, with DirecTV, DirecTV Now, Watch TV and U-verse platforms adding up to 24.5 million subscribers. The renewal was make-or-break for Viacom as the company tries to add to its turnaround momentum. DirecTV in recent years has paid Viacom an estimated $1 billion a year in carriage fees — and nearly the same amount in advertising expenditures for AT&T and DirecTV.

“I’m very happy to share that we’ve just announced a renewed and expanded Viacom/AT&T-DirecTV partnership that includes continued carriage of Viacom services across AT&T-DirecTV’s platforms and products,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said in a note to staff. “As a result, our programming will continue to be available to AT&T-DirecTV subscribers without disruption. We expect to announce additional details of our partnership in the coming weeks, and I will of course keep you posted.”

DirecTV had most of the leverage, but the satcaster couldn’t afford to alienate more subscribers by dropping cable staples like Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and BET at a time when it is facing fierce competition for low-cost pay-TV services from streaming platforms and new forms of skinny bundles from cable rivals. DirecTV parent company AT&T is also under pressure to deliver consistent earnings in the near term to help the company shoulder its $170 billion debt load.

Viacom’s previous contract expired at midnight ET March 22. Executives from Viacom, led by distribution chief Tom Gorke, camped out at DirecTV’s El Segundo headquarters as of March 20 to hammer out a deal, but not before launching an aggressive PR campaign against DirecTV to warn viewers of the potential for the channels to go dark. The sides were in negotiations for hours on Friday night into Saturday morning. They resumed later on Saturday and Viacom dropped the crawl graphic warning of the possible shutoff that popped up on the DirecTV feeds for Viacom channels in the afternoon of March 19.

The tension around the Viacom-DirecTV carriage reflects the broader strain in the traditional pay-TV ecosystem as consumers flock to low-cost streaming alternatives such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein arrives in court, in

    Harvey Weinstein Gives Bizarre Interview From Hospital Ahead of Rape Trial

    Harvey Weinstein has given an interview weeks ahead of his rape trial in a desperate effort to convince onlookers that the apparent medical condition that caused him to undergo back surgery and use a walker are authentic and insist that he has done more for women professionally than he is being given credit for. In [...]

  • US Capitol

    The Sneaky Long Game of ALI’s Restatement of Copyright (Guest Column)

    Last week, Senator Thom Tillis and four other members of Congress sent a letter to an organization you may never have heard of, the American Law Institute (ALI).  The letter questions the ALI’s ongoing project to publish a competing version of the Copyright Act – or, as the ALI calls it, a “Restatement” of copyright [...]

  • Tom Petty’s Daughters, Widow Settle Legal

    Tom Petty’s Daughters, Widow Settle Legal Battle Over Estate

    Tom Petty’s widow and daughters from a previous marriage have settled their bitter legal battle, according to a report in Rolling Stone. Earlier this year, Adria Petty and Annakim Violette, the late singer’s daughters with his former wife Jane, sued his second wife, Dana York, for $5 million, alleging that she had deprived them of [...]

  • Tropical rainforest on the banks of

    Warner Music Aims to Plant 100,000 Trees in the Amazon as Holiday Gift to Staff

    In a move that inspired and environmentally conscious companies will hopefully emulate, as a holiday gift to its employees, Warner Music Group is partnering with the One Tree Planted organization to plant trees in the fire-ravaged Amazon forest. The company is planting 10 trees in the Amazon for each employee — a total of 48,210 [...]

  • Republic Records Names Chris Blackwell Senior

    Republic Records Names Chris Blackwell Senior VP of Creative Content

    Republic Records has named Chris Blackwell senior vice president of creative content & development, it was announced today by co-founders Monte and Avery Lipman and general manager Jim Roppo. According to the announcement, Blackwell will lead creative development for film, television and premium platform projects set to feature and showcase Republic Records artists. His responsibilities include establishing partnerships to create, develop, [...]

  • China Spying Technology Tik Tok Placeholder

    TikTok Gains Global Momentum -- but Also Raises Sticky Privacy Questions

    Bay Area rapper Saweetie didn’t intend for “My Type” to come out as a single. But when a clip of the bouncy anthem about desirable (and slightly vulgar) attributes in a partner started to take off on TikTok as part of a social media challenge, it became clear the song would be her defining hit. The [...]

  • Carlyle Group, Investors in Taylor Swift

    Carlyle Group, Investors in Taylor Swift Catalog, Address Scooter Braun Drama (Sort Of)

    Kewsong Lee, co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a private equity fund whose assets include a minority investment in Big Machine Label Group, the record company that’s home to Taylor Swift’s catalog, spoke to CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” on Wednesday. During the interview, held at the Goldman Sachs Financial Conference, host Wilfred Frost asked the business executive [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content