Last week, we wrote about Viacom's really short-sighted decision to use its fans as hostages
in a silly dispute with DirecTV over fees. To prevent any DirecTV customer from seeing any of its key shows, Viacom stopped streaming them online... for all customers, meaning that even those who had nothing to do with any of this couldn't legally
watch the shows they liked. As we noted, this would likely only serve to drive more people to find unauthorized versions. Late in the week, we saw AMC smartly take the opposite approach
and provide more
online access to customers disrupted by a similar fight it was having with Dish Network.
Of course, one of Viacom's most popular shows -- and one of the key ones turned off from streaming -- is The Daily Show
with Jon Stewart, which had been on break last week anyway. However, it returned last night with a vengeance, and target number one: his corporate masters at Viacom for acting as if they were China
in blocking the internet, and likely driving more fans to unauthorized streams. You can watch it here
(if you're in the US) complete with Viacom appending a commercial bitching about DirecTV beforehand:
When we wrote about this last week, one of our usual critics told us, in some of the most angry language imaginable, how objectionable it was that we dared to mention the obvious fact that if you don't make things available legally, people might find unauthorized versions. However, Stewart made the exact same point in his discussion of the situation.
"You're pulling the shows from the internet?!? What are you, China?!? And by the way, you don't think the kids already have a workaround? This morning, when I woke up, my 8-year-old son was watching Dark Knight Rises in 3D. They're already figuring it out. So basically you're blocking old people from watching the show, and just giving people a chance to discover that there's other entertaining s**t in the world...."
In response, Viacom has somewhat sheepishly backed down and put the Daily Show & Colbert back online
(though it seems some others may be blocked). It tried to make a joke of this a bit by pointing to Stewart's mocking and noting that "The Daily Show continues to exercise the creative and editorial freedom that makes it consistently great." In other words, someone at Viacom realized they totally screwed up and even their own high profile employees were calling them on it publicly. It really makes you wonder if they have anyone at Viacom who thinks how the world will react to its crazy moves.