Shares of Viacom, Discovery and AMC Networks took at hit on Wednesday after DirecTV confirmed it has set two new low-cost skinny bundle packages that do not include any channels from those programmers.
DirecTV Now has set new streaming skinny bundle options for $50 and $70, both of which do not feature any channels from cable stalwarts Viacom, Discovery, AMC Networks or A+E Networks, which is privately held as a joint venture of Disney and Hearst.
DirecTV’s move was seen as a bad sign for the four companies by media biz watchers. Programmers generally seek to have their channels in as many bundles as possible, particularly those that are lower cost and thus presumably attractive to many consumers. In years past, many top programmers had clauses in carriage deals mandating that their channels be included in an MVPD’s most widely distributed packages and tiers.
The satcaster’s decision is a sign that it sees channels from those programmers as expendable for a bare-bones basic package. As the nation’s largest MVPD, DirecTV’s moves will be closely watched by other cable operators and Dish Network.
DirecTV will continue to carry channels from Discovery, Viacom, AMC Networks and A+E in its existing skinny bundle offerings and on its core satellite TV platform.
Discovery shares were down 5% at the close of trading Wednesday to $26.93. AMC Networks slid nearly 4.8% to close at $58.98. Viacom was down 3.4% to $28.45.