×
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

  • National Enquirer - Jeff Bezos

    Hudson Media CEO James Cohen Purchases the National Enquirer

    Hudson Media’s CEO James Cohen announced Thursday that he will purchase the National Enquirer as well as American Media’s other tabloids, the Globe and the National Examiner. With the purchase of the National Enquirer, which Cohen reportedly bought for $100 million, he plans to strengthen their collaborative efforts, documentary shows, weekly podcasts, and theme parks. [...]

  • Amazon

    Amazon Music’s Free Tier Is More Advertising Play Than Spotify Killer, Analysts Say

    When news began to spread last week that Amazon Music’s long-anticipated free streaming tier was imminent, headlines emerged about its threat to Spotify and Apple Music, with some stories saying that Spotify’s stock price dropped in response to the news. But not only was today’s launch of the free tier basically a soft one — [...]

  • Nicki MinajCFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Dinner,

    Nicki Minaj Parts Ways With Longtime Managers (EXCLUSIVE)

    Nicki Minaj has parted ways with Gee Roberson and Cortez Bryant and Blueprint/ Maverick Management, a source close to the situation confirms to Variety. She had worked with the pair for the majority of her career. The source says the decision was mutual and amicable, and there was no specific reason for the split, adding [...]

  • Amazon

    Amazon Music Launches Free Streaming Tier, Through Alexa Only (for Now)

    Amazon Music today basically soft-launched its free streaming tier, in which U.S. customers of its Alexa voice assistant will have access to top Amazon Music playlists and thousands of stations, at no cost. The limited access that the new free service provides — it’s only available through Alexa, and when the listener requests a song, [...]

  • Donald Glover and Adidas Launch Short

    Donald Glover and Adidas Launch Partnership With New Shoes and Short Films (Watch)

    Donald Glover and Adidas Originals today announced Donald Glover Presents, a creative partnership that unveiled a new line of shoes and a series of brief — and very funny — films to accompany them. (Watch them below.) Donald Glover Presents reimagines threeAadidas styles, the Nizza, the Continental 80, and the Lacombe. The shoes feature uneven [...]

  • Kodak Black Arrested at Border on

    Kodak Black Arrested at Border on Gun and Drug Charges

    Rapper Kodak Black and three other people were arrested after they allegedly attempted to cross the U.S.-Canada border with guns and marijuana, officials told NBC News on Thursday. The 21-year-old rapper missed concerts at the House of Blues in Boston on Wednesday night after he was stopped at the Lewiston-Queenston International Bridge near Buffalo hours [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content