Viacom Uses Fans As Hostages: Blocks Daily Show, Colbert Streams For Everyone To Spite DirecTV

from the um.-overkill dept

So, as the dispute between Viacom and DirecTV over how much money Viacom wants for its channels wore on, the various Viacom channels like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodian disappeared for DirecTV subscribers. As often happens in such situations, DirecTV told its customers that they regretted the situation and were working on it, but in the meantime, they could check out missing programs online. Viacom’s massive overkill response? Pull the free streams it offers online of two of its most popular shows: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. For everyone. Not just DirecTV subscribers. Because, apparently, pissing off consumers and driving them to unauthorized means, is… um… I don’t know… supposedly going to get them on Viacom’s side? This is the kind of “strategic” thinking that goes on at Viacom, apparently.

Of course, this really highlights the exceptionally distorted economics of the cable/satellite TV business, where it makes more sense to block your direct relationship with fans and piss them off… in the hopes that it might make the satellite provider to pay you more money. Viacom’s new motto, apparently, is: Using our fans as hostages. This is why the TV market is so ripe for disruption.

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Companies: directv, viacom

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Comments on “Viacom Uses Fans As Hostages: Blocks Daily Show, Colbert Streams For Everyone To Spite DirecTV”

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Blardy Bligam says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What I’m curious about is whether this is just a risky bluff from Viacom. As you say, these particular shows are on a break which means pulling them isn’t going to hurt too much monetarily speaking, at least for the time being. But what happens if DirectTV calls their bluff?

If I were in their shoes, I’d say, “Ok. If that’s how you want to play things, fine. We just won’t carry your offerings anymore. Goodbye and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!” Then I’d reduce the subscription price for all my DirectTV subscribers by whatever amount it was costing per user to carry Viacom’s offerings. This should keep most subscribers relatively happy, plus they can always go online if they absolutely must have a particular Viacom show. Then I’d sit back and watch as Viacom has a hissy fit, then goes on to the next service provider and attempts the exact same thing with them.

If enough providers were to simply drop Viacom altogether (which is plausible if they all decided to unite for a common cause), Viacom would quickly cease to be worth much to advertisers, who in turn will move on to greener pastures. This scenario ends with Viacom completely losing on both sides of the equation.

Would this be enough for Viacom to go belly up I wonder? If so, it’s like I said at the beginning; it’s risky bluff. Especially when one realizes Viacom doesn’t have a monopoly on stupid, emotionally driven decision making. There’s no telling what DirectTV and those like them might do when pushed far enough by Viacom. I guess part/most of it would come down to an analysis of which would be least damaging to profits; paying insanely huge fees to Viacom or ditch them and hope you don’t lose too many subscribers over it (who may go to your competitor, or just as likely cut the cable for good). It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re closer to the truth than you know. When you look at the philosophical framework used to justify this sort of stuff, particularly the writings of Ayn Rand, you find it consists of three main things:

1) “That’s mine and you can’t play with it!”
2) “You’re not the boss of me!”
3) A lot of big words and flowery prose to make it appear that the preceding “philosophy of the 5-year-old” is moral, ethical, and a good foundation for building a society on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

As opposed to the behaviour and conduct of psychologically and emotionally healthy adult human beings.

Stupidity is certainly rampant in your idiotic post.

Randd very probably had narcisstic personality disorder and what worked for her is highly unlikely to work for psychologically and emotionally healthy humans.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Not that anyone will see it =P”

Well, as a Dish Network subscriber, I will get to see it. Although we currently are without AMC, IFC and one more channel (I forget the name of).

But, to make up for it, if you’re a Dish Network subscriber and you call Customer Service you can either get credit towards your bill or… my favorite option which I’m going to try for this afternoon… get a FREE Roku 2 box (so that if you have broadband you can still access AMC content through one of the options online). They may give more than one box depending on your situation. Since we have a ton of receivers in our home, I’m shooting for getting at least two boxes, which I think they’ll allow. It’s basically taken on a case per case basis as far as what Dish Network is willing to give you for the loss of said channels.

Makoto (profile) says:

Fade into Irrelevance

This isn’t a good move at all. I mean, I enjoy the Colbert Report and watching it online is my only real way of accessing the content. If I can’t enjoy content on my terms and time, then the content just doesn’t exist.

A move like this could make these channels fade into irrelevance, as other options of entertainment are starting to become commonplace.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And the lancashire building contractor industry 70 years ago apparently.

I’ll wheel out Stanley Holloway again for those who missed it before.
Full story here

Some choice extracts:

One day Sam were filling a knot hole
With putty when in through the door,
Came an old man fair reeked i’whiskers
An th’old man said good morning I’m Noah.

Sam asked Noah what were his business
And t’old chap went on to remark,
That not liking the look of the weather
He was thinking of building an ark.

He’d got all the wood for the bulwarks
And all t’other shipbuilding junk,
Now he wanted some nice birds-eye maple
To panel the sides of his bunk.

Now maple were Sams monopoly
That means it were all his to cut,
And nobody else hadn’t got none
So he asked Noah three ha’pence a foot.

A ha’penny too much replied Noah
Penny a foots more the mark,
A penny a foot and when rain comes
I’ll give you a ride in my ark.

But neither would budge in the bargain
The whole thing were kind of a jam,
So Sam put his tongue out at Noah
And Noah made long bacon at Sam.

Of course things didn’t work out for Sam – because of his obstinacy:

In wrath and ill-feeling they parted
Not knowing when they’d meet again,
And Sam ‘ad forgot all about it
‘Til one day it started to rain.

He stood to his watch-chain in water
On tower-top just before dark,
When who should come sailing towards him
But old Noah steering his ark.

They stared at each other in silence
‘Til ark were alongside all but,
Then Noah said what price yon maple
Sam answered three ha’pence a foot.

Noah said nay I’ll make thee an offer
Same as I did t’other day,
A penny a foot and a free ride
Now come on lad what do thee say.

Three ha’pence a foot came the answer
So Noah his sail had to hoist,
And sail off again in a dudgeon
While Sam stood determined but moist.

His chin just stuck out of the water
A comical figure he cut,
Noah said now whats the price of yon maple
And Sam answered three ha’pence a foot.

Said Noah you’d best take my offer
It’s the last time I’ll be hereabouts,
And if water comes half an inch higher
I’ll happen get maple for nowt.

Eventually DirecTV may get a much better bargain…

Steve (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

true.. but.. oh yeah. that’s the same companies…

We’re getting to a critical mass of broadband savvy users, and people who just happened to by Rokus for Netflix, that someone like John Stewart could just go only to Broadband and start the inevitable demise of companies like viacom whos business model is to stand in between the Intellectual Property creator and consumer..

Steve (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not infallible, but still better than regulation.. AND, actually, what you’re seeing here is the result of a market which has been so twisted by industry regulations written by industry lobbiests that it can hardly be called an open market.. It is also unique, in that they’re USED TO having a monopoly on the transport medium to get the content to you, but now that the MARKET has given so many options (OTA, Cable, Satellite, 3G/4G data, Cable or DSL Internet, etc), the industry is finding out that their thuggy methods aren’t so useful anymore.. Soon the market will FORCE them to play nice with the consumer..

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Aye, let’s have no market regulation, so only the strong rule. Riiiight.

The ‘free’ market can only be free (of regulation) the way that ‘free’ men can be free (of laws). There have to be some to keep a certain level of sanity and fairness. Too much regulation (especially of the wrong type) can stifle business, but too little can lead to anarchy and monopolistic abuses.

Doug D (profile) says:

I love DirecTV's counter-move.

Right after this happened, what did DirecTV do in response?

They decided to give all the “Encore” movie channels to subscribers for free until the 31st.

I couldn’t watch a re-run of the Daily Show last night, and had to instead make due with a free Sean Connery “Bond” film? Okay, *which* company are people going to side with?

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: I love DirecTV's counter-move.

Excuse me? “had to instead make due with a free Sean Connery “Bond” film?” Are you insane?! Those are the best, and I’m too young to have even seen them when they originally came out. But with the exception of Goldeneye and the two Daniel Craig “Bond” films, Sean Connery’s are my favorite portrayals.

And you know what, Dish Network does a similar thing when they lose channels. I know since the AMC dispute/loss there’s been a few additions I’ve seen on the program guide that weren’t there before. At least two of which are movie channels. Cube was on one the other night, which if you haven’t heard of/seen… GO DO SO IMMEDIATELY!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I love DirecTV's counter-move.

Fun fact: I bought the Blu Ray box set of all the Superman films earlier this year (including the 3rd & 4th…). That means I’ve now spent more money on that than I ever have on anything Stewart & Colbert have made for Viacom… I also own a box set of all the official 007 films despite having originally watched them all for free on TV. Interesting, given the usual arguments round here.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: I love DirecTV's counter-move.

Wow, back in my day I had Hey Dude, Salute Your Shorts, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Rhen And Stimpy, Hey Arnold, Doug, Rugrats, Rocko’s Modern Life, Ah! Real Monsters, Kblam, Legends of The Hidden Tenple, What Would You Do, Wild and Crazy Kids, Count Duckula, Double Dare, Family Double Dare, Spongebob Squarepants, Invader Zim…..the list goes on.

Point is If I had lost those shows back in the day because of a broadcaster blackout, I would have flipped my lid. I agree that iCarly is no loss. I feel pity for the kids 3 generations behind 30 years old for missing all that great pre-Viacom programming.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re: I love DirecTV's counter-move.

You know Wally, in some articles we don’t see eye to eye, but in this one we most assuredly do.

And might I add “wtf dude?!” You just made me feel semi-old and I’m not even old! Lol. All those shows you mentioned are exactly the same ones I watched back in my day when they were first coming out. Good times.

Although I will say, I’ve watched iCarly on occasion. My younger relatives like it and my buddy’s niece and nephew love it, which it always happens to be on whenever we’re getting ready to go tear up the town. So we watch it with them before we head out. It’s not bad, but it sure isn’t no “Ahhh! Real Monsters” or any of the other stuff we had back in the day. Which just gave me an idea, I still have some of that stuff recorded on VHS tapes (gasp!), just might have to dig up one of my old VCRs and play it for all these kids I’m around. Bet they’ll get a kick out of it.

vilain (profile) says:

Why aren't Colbert and John Steward looking to move

If the distributor isn’t doing their job by making their content available, why aren’t Colbert and John Stewart’s attorneys now screaming at Viacom to get their head outta their collective anni? If that’s not part of their contracts, it sure ought to be. “Keep your corporate hands offa my show or you loose the right to distribute it. Where _I_ want it distributed.”

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Why aren't Colbert and John Steward looking to move

As near as I can figure, contracts with big studios include a steel-tether around ones genitalia for the duration of the contract.

If ever on of the contracted individuals does something the studio deems undesirable, the studio “hangs them out to dry” for awhile.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Its an attempt to put more pressure on DTV to settle because they were directing subscribers to the web.

But neither side really makes sense to me. DTV and Dish are afraid of people cutting the cord so what do they do when in a contract dispute? They direct people to Amazon/itunes, hulu, netflix etc, give people credits off their bill for buying episodes online, and give away streaming (roku) devices that show people they really don’t need these expensive services.

Ian says:

Re: Re:

“Quick question: How is this to spite DirecTV? Wouldn’t this be spiting Viacom since they are the cause of the problem in the first place for wanting an extra $1billion from DirecTV’s customers?”

It’s in spite to DTV because DTV told it’s customers they can still go on their missing channels web site and watch their shows they are missing.

In response viacom removed some popular shows.

Anonymous Coward says:

these are parts of the entertainment industries. since when have they ever given a toss about customers? when they are put into the position of losing money, perhaps even having to cease to be, all they look for is someone to blame for their own failings. usually, that’s the very customers they rely on but have crapped on and who have left because of being crapped on. that dont count though!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Entertainment cares a lot about their customers! Their customers are stores and the users are just something the stores have to think about. Changing the transparency before the stores in this game is like taking off the clothes for the industry. Now they have to find a new way of dressing up and that wont go well with the conservative owners!

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Death breaks left, and lights a cigarette. Now he sticks out his arm and… OMG he’s thrown a clothesline. Life’s is down! The ball comes out!”

Life recovers the fumble on a bounce. Oh my lord, he’s heading left, now right, and a spin move! He’s making for the end zone folks! Death is giving chase. He…could…go..all…the…

–We’re sorry, the conclusion of this game has been blacked out by Viacom to better serve you, the viewer. You’re welcome, fuckers.–

Tunnen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

And now I got “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf in my head.

Which is sort of funny in a way, since they are sort of similar. You got someone withholding services until the other makes a commitment. When they final break down and commit, they realize the mistake they made and are now wishing it would just be all over. =P

Anonymous Coward says:

Supplementing this news.

Viacom canned not 2 but a lot of shows that it was putting out for free.


Shows for which full episodes are no longer available include: Comedy Central’s Daily Show and The Colbert Report; Nick’s SpongeBob SquarePants, Victorious and iCarly; Nick Jr.’s Dora the Explorer; MTV’s Jersey Shore and Teen Mom; and TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland.

And according to Viacom the internet is only to serve as promotional marketing tool.


According to a Viacom spokesman, the company is still offering hundreds of free episodes online but chose to pare back the number of full-length shows available because DirecTV is marketing the Internet video destinations as an alternative to the full networks. Viacom has always intended free online episodes to be a promotional marketing tool for affiliates, he added.

Kicking and screaming Viacom needs to be dragged around.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Keep in mind that if you dont subscribe to cable/sat then they dont really care about you. They make pennies when you watch one of their shows online, they make dollars whether a cable/sat subscriber watch their shows or not, the ones that do watch, they make even more from thanks to ad dollars.

They stand to make a lot more money by forcing dtv to accept their terms than they lose by cutting off non subscribers from their online sevices.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

They stand to make a lot more money by forcing dtv to accept their terms than they lose by cutting off non subscribers from their online sevices

I actually do believe that is what Viacom is thinking. Moreover I think this would have been reasonable logic up to the late 1990s. What they may be missing now, however, is that distribution channels are no longer exclusive (or even protected by local monopoly rents), nor is their content. They may get past one maybe two more rounds of strong-arm pricing, but their future is bleak down that road further on.

In other words the logic you describe made perfect since before consumers had alternatives for both distribution and content.

I know this is a real taboo in today’s paradigm… but companies really should start taking a long view on viability and profits.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It won’t be long before those pennies are all they’ll get. Of course by then it might be nickles and dimes.

The biggest problem is that the transition from computer screen to TV screen hasn’t been a smooth one, despite new devices coming out all the time to make this easier. Cutting the cord increases your hassle. But eventually there will be no difference between your TV and your computer, and cable will go the way of VHS.

DannyB (profile) says:

And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

This would be a reason.

In addition, the fact that it’s increasingly impossible to find anything to watch despite having a couple hundred channels.

The whole idea of splitting a cable up into channels is a technological artifact from the previous millennium. All I need is a single channel — The Internet. Then all I need is the bandwidth for the one program I am watching, from the one server I am connected to. For example, NetFlix, or Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime, or YouTube, or direct to some cable channel websites. Or (gasp!) other programming independent of cable or satellite!

The whole idea of splitting programming up into time slots is a technological artifact from the previous millennium. All I need is an internet connection to a server that lets me watch what I want NOW, when I’m ready. And pause it. Come back tomorrow and resume if I want to.

The whole idea of broadcast is a technological artifact from the previous millennium. Centralized broadcasters, many receivers. It should work the other way, like the Internet does. Setup a server and I come to you. Not the other way, where your broadcast waves cross my property line — but more importantly must be allocated a chunk of valuable spectrum. By setting up a server on the internet, a content provider uses no dedicated pre-allocated spectrum that is just for their use.

There is no limit to how many servers can be set up, just like the web. It’s just that serving audio, and then later video are just higher and higher hurdles to jump. But the technology to do this continues to become more and more accessible. Any idiot can upload a video to YouTube. (Yes, surprisingly, it is true. I could provide examples, but leave this as an exercise for the reader to confirm.) With somewhat more effort you can set up a streaming server that streams your cat live, or a menu of pre recorded videos of your kids. Obviously this same approachable technology could be used by anyone with something to say — just like the web did for print.

Yes, there are some costs for scaling up video servers — but its getting cheaper and more approachable every day. Once upon a time a box to act as a web server was somewhat of a hurdle to set up and expensive. (Price of a Unix workstation in the tens of thousands, fat internet pipe, understanding how to configure bind, zones, etc, etc.)

But by all means — while the world is changing around you — slowly but surely — go ahead and hold your audience hostage for more money. Do you assume the audience is so stupid that they don’t know that the greater money you are holding them hostage for is ultimately going to come from: the audience being held hostage?

The world never changes overnight. It’s a gradual slow process. There wasn’t one single day when the microcomputer took over from mainframes. But it happened even though there is no single day you can point to when it did.

My point is this. The best thing you can do while the world is changing around you is to put your head in the sand, put your fingers in your ears, sing La la la la la, and try to get new laws passed. Oh, and hold hostage the very audience who you want more money from — they’ll just love you for that!

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

Channels was the slicing up of spectrum into narrow “channels”.

Google: define channels


A length of water wider than a strait, joining two larger areas of water, esp. two seas.

Direct toward a particular end or object: “advertisers channel money into radio”.

noun. canal – duct – groove – gutter – ditch
verb. canalize

The internet is different than cable or broadcast.

On the internet all of the possible “channels” of information are not coming into my home unbidden. The bandwidth is not sliced up so that every possible server in the world has its own dedicated slot or “channel” preallocated to send bits to me.

When I go to a website, as much of the available bandwidth as possible is used to send information to me. If I surf multiple sites at once, they compete for bandwidth.

Maybe you mean websites are channels in the sense of thinking channels are offered on a menu. This knob turns to channels 2 through 13, providing a menu of 12 channels to select from.

Ezekial says:

Re: And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

The problem is too many people like you are satisfied with low quality web based streaming video. Most people dont have a connection with enough bandwith to stream 1080P HD content with a minimum sound quality of Dolby Digital. This pisses me off so much because todays generation doesnt care about quality, they just want it now which is why sadly in the future we will be forced to suffer with compressed MP3s and shitty 720p AVI video instead of quality Blue Ray discs and Vinyl records/CDs

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

” sadly in the future we will be forced to suffer with compressed MP3s and shitty 720p AVI video instead of quality Blue Ray discs and Vinyl records/CDs”

No we won’t. People said the same shit when CDs came out. Some people care and some people do not. But we still have Blue-rays and FLAC files. With the ability to pass everything around digitally there is no reason people who care can not get the high quality version and people who don’t can steam the shitty version.

In 40 years elitests like you will still have pure high quality videos/music to enjoy while you call everyone who downloads the compressed version a peasant. Just like the vinyl snobs did to the cds purchasers 20 years ago.

If I can to watch something in high quality I will download the extra 7gbs of content or get a blue ray. But if I just want to stream some comedy movie I really don’t care if its not “TRUE HD”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

You’re wrong. Yeah people said the same thing when CDs came out and now less than 1% of new music is available on Vinyl. You make it sound like you can still get anything on Vinyl. It wont be long before people stop buying Blu Rays since hundreds of millions of people are finding Hulu and Netflix and are satisfied with the crappy video and audio quality that they provide. In about 10 years only the biggest of blockbusters will probably be available on Blue Ray and everything else will be consumed through some crappy streaming video product like a Roku

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

Why would I need to get new music on vinyl when I can get it on FLAC? You know you can get high quality music without buying the outdated physical disc.

How you consume it will always be your choice. They are not going to start filming shit with 240i cameras because people stream. You can download and pay for the high quality just like you can now.

Just cause things need to be compressed to stream doesn’t mean people are deleting the high quality original copy after they compress it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

“10 years only the biggest of blockbusters will probably be available on Blue Ray”

Right everything else will be on whatever replaces blue-ray or available for high quality digital download. You can watch high quality its just not the common option because most people don’t care and don’t want to wait for a 7gb download of what they could just be watching already. It doesn’t mean the option to download is going to disappear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

Exactly but the audiophiles and videophiles can still find get their high quality versions and call everyone else a peon, it is just not the default.

I don’t know what this guys deal is anyway. The blue-ray is a relatively new tech, if that type of physical media fails its not like no one will ever make an HD digital copy.

Maybe he forgets his only option was VHS 30 years ago.

Ezekial says:

Re: Re: Re:3 And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

Maybe its because nobody has an internet connection fast enough to stream Blue Ray quality video with HD master audio sound. And soon 4K video. Therefor you WONT be able to get it digitally unless they allow you to purchase a single file that you can download on your own time to watch later.

Grae (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

Or maybe, just maybe, the demand for HD content will push ISPs to improve their network and technology and the demand for better internet connections will push content providers to make improve their HD content and make more of it available.

Not to mention that there are people and organizations outside of the ISP and content industries which are making improvements all the time on the very technology that those two industries use, which acts as an outside force to push the average standard higher.

I fully expect that when–not if–the legislative shackles are unbound from intellectual monopolies and technology that it will advance for the sake of nothing more than progress itself, and the average consumer will reap the benefits of that work.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

Yep, I’m satisfied. It’s a trade off.

If I can watch it when I want, pause it, resume it tomorrow — from a different device, wherever I am and have time to watch, then yes — I’ll compromise on your notion of ultimate quality.

If I doesn’t fit my lifestyle then I won’t watch it at all. Period.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And they wonder why people are cutting the Cable cord

“My point is this. The best thing you can do while the world is changing around you is to put your head in the sand, put your fingers in your ears, sing La la la la la, and try to get new laws passed.”

Sadly there are so many people who do just that. I go with the times myself. At one point it was awesome for me to have dtv then I bought a FTA box. That was pretty nice for me for a good while but as my internet now has the bandwidth to stream instantly that is my new norm.

A gigabyte for me today is around 150 seconds “at places that allow enough connections to pull the max or a torrent”. Where as my net in the not too far past would have took around a bazillion hours.

What’s my point? The norm is always evolving and what seems so awesome today is just gonna be old news tomorrow. Cable TV is going to come to a end very soon. It’s the only logical next step in the evolution of technology.

Do we still have companies that produce millions and millions of typewriters because they’re the most logical choice verses a computer? Of course not rofl! I’d use my cell phone over a typewriter just because it could probably store enough data to fill up my house if wrote down on paper.

Jes Lookin says:

Payola Go ?

My main problem with subscription media: Does it have commercials (already paid for), then it should be free. For DirectTV, they should be getting paid to distribute Viacom’s generally stupid and repetitive content NOT the other way around. The underlying problem is probably that all the ‘company entities’ involved are all owned by the same real company and it’s just a stupid money shuffle.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Payola Go ?

This is what I love about the Sims series (I know, talking about video games in an article about TV shows). The Sims has expansion packs with clothing options for your characters, options that are reproductions of label clothes, like H&M or Diesel. These companies pay EA to advertise their clothes in these expansions…and what does EA do? Turns around and charges the customer again to receive these expansions. Between 10 and 40 euroes is the usual price. Basically, the same as a game for me.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is why the cable TV model needs to die.

To them it’s all about taking their own viewers hostage to collect a ransom from the cable and satellite providers.

And cable and satellite providers are pushing themselves towards extinction by giving into the hostage situation and raising their prices year after year. I mean, TRIPLING your prices over an 11 year period is an unsustainable business model for any industry. This is part of why Hulu and Netflix are doing so well, the have reasonable prices.

If cable and satellite providers all got together and said NO at the same time then Viacom and others would be forced to give in, or lose all their revenue streams. But of course Viacom won’t let that happen, they make their deals end at different times on purpose, so that customers can jump to another cable/satellite provider if one of them refuses to pay the ransom. Also, it would probably break anti-monopoly laws for them to all get together and pressure Viacom and others together.

Dan (profile) says:

Provide the actual numbers!

I am and have been a satified Direct TV customer. Let’s face it, both Direct TV and Viacom have their share of customer problems (past, present, and future). Both want as much as they can get. Both have had multiple months to come to an agreement. Then when faced with the deadline, they claim they are working for customers? How is that? Working for US? By not coming to an agreement? By engaging us in their business conversation? By engaging in deceptive analyses?

Thanks for the concise, “billion dollars and 30% increase” analysis Direct TV. Same for the Viacom analysis… “pennies per subscriber”? What does any of that mean? If the cost was $1, and it went up “30 cents” to $1.30, would anyone complain? I doubt it. But try to get the real numbers from either company and you hit a wall. I have requested in writing the exact figures, and neither responded. COST PER SUBSCRIBER… BEFORE AND AFTER FOR THE SPECIFIC VIACOM PACKAGE BEING NEGOTIATED. REALLY IS THIS SO SECRET?

“They” seem all too willing, in this battle they decided to take to the social media crowd, to sympathize with the “public outrage”. There we hear parents complaining that their kids want to watch Spongebob and are being denied…along with the “evil and greedy corporations”. Yes, this is the way to settle disputes. I would love to see what actually happens at the negotiating table… do they bring out a pile of idiotic comments from their “fans”? That is “getting to yes”?

Send me the current and proposed cost per subscriber, then I will decide based on that number whether I want to pay. Simple as that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Provide the actual numbers!

There are a couple of reasons nobody’s being very specific about the dollars involved. But taken together, I believe they’ve each given us enough pieces to get pretty close to the real numbers…

Viacom’s logic: We only want an extra “couple of pennies a day” per subscriber. So that’s nothing, right? Wrong!

First, why do they say “a couple of pennies”? Is that literally 2? If so, why not say 2? It’s probably more than 2, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt in these calculations:

2 cents/day times 30 days/month times 84 months (the previous contract was in place for 7 years), times 20 million DirecTV customers. What does that add up to? $1,008,000,000

Yep, there’s the $1 BILLION extra that DirecTV says Viacom is demanding.

DirecTV says Viacom is asking for a 30% increase, so that $1 BILLION is ON TOP of what DirecTV is paying now.

Viacom says they’re asking for an increase of “a couple of pennies a day per subscriber” but won’t tell us what we’re currently paying (even if you ask them – they say that DirecTV sets the price), so here’s some math (again giving Viacom the benefit of the doubt and using 2 pennies/day):

Let y = the current daily bill rate
30% * y = 0.02
y = 0.02 / 0.30
y = 0.06666666

So DirecTV is currently paying about $2/month (per subscriber) for Viacom’s lame channels. Now, they probably mark that up when they bill you, because they want to make a profit, so you can probably figure that the portion of your bill that gives you the Viacom channels in your package is about $2.30 – $2.60/month, assuming a 15% – 30% markup (15 is what I would consider the low end, and 30 the high end, but I believe most service industries run in that profit range).

So, I guess you have to ask yourself, what are the Viacom channels worth to you? If you’re currently paying about $2.50/month, are you willing to pay $3.25/month? Of course, Viacom maintains that DirecTV shouldn’t pass along the price increase to its customers. Huh? Then why does Viacom feel it should pass on a price increase to DirecTV? Buit I digress…

Now DirecTV’s stance is that if Viacom thinks its networks are so valuable, they should be willing to sell them the way movie channels are sold – a la carte. You pay for only the channels you’re interested in watching. You want MTV? That’ll be $0.50/month. BET? $0.60/month. Nickelodeon? $0.95/month. TVLand? $0.30/month. Comedy Central? $0.80/month. Those are sample prices, and not based on any real expectation of actual costs, but you get the idea. Of course, all DirecTV is really doing with that argument is calling Viacom’s bluff on their perceived network value. Viacom would never agree to a la carte pricing, because they know that there’s no way they’d be able to sell all their channels to every subscriber. That’s why Viacom is insisting on keeping everything bundled into an all-or-nothing agreement. Which ultimately means we all end up paying for channels we’ll never watch, but because we’re all sharing the cost, the price per channel ends up being mnore reasonable.

Hope that helps.

Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Provide the actual numbers!

Found this

Christina Ortiz blogs: “In case you haven?t noticed, Viacom and DirectTV have been trading blows over carriage fees, the amount of money DirectTV pays Viacom to air channels. Recently Viacom, who owns MTV, Comedy Central, Nickolodeon and 23 other channels, raised their fees by 30 percent, which amounts to $7.30 in additional fees annually per subscriber, or about $144 million a year for the 20 million or so of DirectTV?s users. DirectTV thought the fees were too much and as of Tuesday at 11:50 pm, they shut off all 26 Viacom channels, leaving only an alternate channel with a loop apology from DirectTV CEO Mike White.”

So where is the BILLION DOLLARS Direct TV?
$7.30 per subscriber ANNUALLY?
Who cares? This is a minor amount in my total Direct TV bill, and indeed an even lesser amount in my total telecommunication cost (cell, broadband, TV).

There are NO winners in this silly fight involving a bunch of petulant children. Yeah it is all about customers. Sure it is.

gv250 says:

Who's the customer?

Several people so far has said “Viacom is pissing off its own customers” or words to that effect.

The viewers are not Viacom’s customers. The viewers are Viacom’s product. The auto, soap, insurance, and drink companies, and other advertisers are Viacom’s customers. And I don’t think they particularly care whether The Daily Show is available online or not.

Oblate (profile) says:

Re: Who's the customer?

Viacom’s customers are the advertisers. How many commercials are being viewed when their channels are off the air? Viacom is screwed either way- if sales don’t dip, the advertisers may ask why they’re buying commercials on Viacom when they have no effect. If sales do dip, the advertisers are going to be upset at Viacom for lost revenue. And if sales go up, why would the advertisers ever return?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Who's the customer?

“The viewers are Viacom’s product.”

One way of looking at it to be sure. But, they piss the public off enough that they go elsewhere and/or just pirate instead of paying their subscription fees? Viacom no longer have any “product” to sell…

“And I don’t think they particularly care whether The Daily Show is available online or not.”

The “product” do care, and they’re running out of reasons to stick with traditional broadcasters…

Kevin (profile) says:

Arguing during a broadcast

A friend of mine who is a DirecTV subscriber told me this morning about an equally childish and petulant part of this dispute. Apparently Viacom was broadcasting a banner across the bottom of its channel on DirecTV during the Daily Show (probably its most popular show) railing against DirecTV. Worse still, DirecTV’s response was to put yet another banner on top of that trying to counter what Viacom was apparently arguing.

Imagine, two corporations arguing with each other passive-aggressively in the middle of their own broadcast in front of their own customers. After this, I wonder if DirecTV will ever push Viacom on the swingset again.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Arguing during a broadcast

It was better than that on Comedy Central Tuesday night during Tosh.0: there were THREE banners (1 from Viacom, 2 from DirecTV), all bitching and calling each other liars and telling the viewer to call 800-blahblah to complain. If it wasn’t taking up so much screen real-estate it would have been hilarious; as it was though, it was just incredibly annoying.

DOlz says:

Just plain contempt

Viacom views its’ customers as passive mindless cattle. I made the mistake of sending “The Daily Show” a couple of suggestions for Mr Stewart to interview once (Cenk Uygar & Mike Masnick). I had hoped for an automated response acknowledging my email, what I got instead was being added to EVERY email list they had and they will not take me off. Turds.

Anonymous Coward says:

When in contract dispute for more money, ESPN loves to get on the local radio with ads saying where you can ‘get your fix’ on sports while they while away the days trying to come to agreement on price.

For me? Don’t care. Cut the cord around a decade ago. Don’t see PPV nor even public tv. Don’t own a tv anymore. Don’t want one. Tired of all the commercials and ads.

I hope Viacom sticks to it’s guns for the next decade. One less is a blessing.

Anonymous Coward says:

meanwhile, in Bizarro World, goatee-Viacom is telling goatee-cable company:

“You’re really just not profitable enough for us, considering our internet options. If you can’t sweeten the pot for us, we’ll cut you out of the loop and focus on streaming services like hulu, netflix, and our own websites, where we can get per-view, relevant advertising and you get nothing.”

Anonymous Coward says:

My question is all of this is, “Does it effect the Daily Show Interviews?”.

For those that don’t know, Stewart often does extended interviews when his guest is an actual expert in some field and tosses the whole thing, unedited, on the web. It’s actually my favorite thing about the Daily Show. Instead of just fitting time constraints for the TV broadcast, sometimes you get conversations on topics that are longer than the TV show itself.

big root (profile) says:

directv sucks and rates will rise with or without viacom

Directv raised my rates 5 months ago without telling me and I have to suck it up and take it. So now Viacom wants to raise their rates. They should be forced to suck it up and take it too.

People are all outraged and upset with viacom. If directv is already raping, why shouldnt viacom get their peice of the pie. Dont get me wrong, I am not for viacom. I am just against directv getting off the hook and putting all the blame on viacom.

Who forced them to raise my rates in march? And stupid people beleive all the propaganda. Also, why should viacom be forced to give away their product to directv customers for free when directv is charging an arm and a leg for it. They were directing all their customers to viacoms online site to get the programming while they worked it out. Meanwhile I am still being charged full price for less product. To mean it seams directv is the only one who wins. My kid wants nik jr!

Wally (profile) says:


Has anyone considered that this shit is exactly why cable and satalite costs go up every year?

The cable and satalite companies have to pay to tap Viacom’s and Clear Channel II’s lines. The service providers really are the victims here because each year the studios ask for more and more money. Granted there are other variables driving the costs up, but that’s the biggest factor right there.

45rooot (profile) says:

Re: Cost.

That’s bull shit. We are the victims. with statements like that, I see why. dumb ass customers…. feeling sorry for the very company that’s screwing you…. Greedy ass corporations on both sides but I am glad to see the PR department earning their money. They have stupid people believing the companies are victims. I would laugh if it wasn’t so sad and stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Cost.

First off, Direct TV provided a whole skew of Premium channels for compensation to their customers. Then you have the phrase “Really are the victims” not “Ate the real victims”. Given the situation between the two not counting the consumer level, DirectvTV refused to pay its assigned extortion fees and so Viacom is having a child’s fit over it. Direct TV’s response is like a child’s response to a bully.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Cost.

“Viacom is doing to directv the same thing directv does to its customers.”

Viacom cut off its Internet programming, and prevented DirecTV from carrying Viacom programming or face charges of “pirating” their signal since there’s no contract at the moment.

DirecTV did…what exactly?

Wally (profile) says:


Has anyone considered that this shit is exactly why cable and satalite costs go up every year?

The cable and satalite companies have to pay to tap Viacom’s and Clear Channel II’s lines. The service providers really are the victims here because each year the studios ask for more and more money. Granted there are other variables driving the costs up, but that’s the biggest factor right there.

Roger D. Settle says:

Directv & Viacom

I think both Viacom and Directv share the blame for this. Viacom says Directv pulled the channels and Directv say they were forced to remove the channels. I don’t know who is telling the truth in this matter but I do know that Viacom does not care for the people that watched their shows. If they cared they would not have removed their shows online. If I couldn’t watch the show on Directv I could at least watch some of them online but now Viacom has removed that option also. That makes me think that all Viacom cares about is money. In case Viacom doesn’t know without people watching their shows they will soon be left with nothing. To try and use little children in this fight is shameful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Directv & Viacom

“Viacom says Directv pulled the channels and Directv say they were forced to remove the channels.
I don’t know who is telling the truth in this matter but I do know that Viacom does not care for the people that watched their shows.”

Technically, BOTH are right!
DirecTV DID pull the feeds…but it was because they were forced to do so by Viacom or face charges of pirating the signal since DirecTV technically doesn’t have the right to transmit without a contract in place!

Don’t ya just love irony?

KGoetowski (user link) says:

Americans resond to bad corporate practices with boycotts

And now I understand why John K. left the Ren & Stimpy show after the first season. I’m sure the South Park guys would have a thing or two to say about this, but ‘Oh no!’, that’s a Comedy Central show. Viacom is taking a serious gamble with any revenue they might have received from their channels’ lineups. P*ssing off the whole of the DirecTV community is going to turn most of us off to any notion of purchasing merchandise related to Nickelodeon or MTV or Comedy Central. That extra billion Dollars they wanted? They’ve practically lost more than that now on what might have been potential sales of Spongebob and Big Time Rush and Beavis & Butthead crap.

Thanks, DirecTV, for the extra premium channels while this is going on.

99% says:

dissatisfied with all tv

This do nothing congress; needs to get involved to protect us from this sort of harassment. Why cant we get what we pay for and pay for what we get I’m so tired of paying for stuff i have seen for the last 50 years. over and over i love Lucy and matlock how many times do we pay for watching 1 show 500 times?.

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