Jon Stewart Blasts Viacom For Stupid Blackout; Viacom Sheepishly Turns Web Streams Back On

from the do-they-have-no-one-who-thinks-this-through? dept

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.

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Companies: directv, viacom

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Comments on “Jon Stewart Blasts Viacom For Stupid Blackout; Viacom Sheepishly Turns Web Streams Back On”

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87 Comments
DannyB (profile) says:

Isn't Viacom the company suing Google/Yahoo?

> It really makes you wonder if they have anyone
> at Viacom who thinks how the world will react
> to its crazy moves.

Viacom seems to think that Google can magically determine if something online is infringing, even though Viacom itself is unable to do so.

Viacom thinks that Google should be liable for third party activity — because Google has money and teenage kids do not.

Like all old timers, the people at Viacom are out of touch with reality.

Hey you kids, get off my lawn!

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Isn't Viacom the company suing Google/Yahoo?

Viacom thinks end users are too stupid to realize that they are the ones who ultimately will be paying higher DirecTV bills because of Viacom’s dispute with DirecTV over being entitled to more money.

So let’s run an ad to convince people that DirecTV is in the wrong for not wanting to charge its viewers more money to go into the pockets of Viacom execs.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re:

>>…what I *really* want: unbundling of the Viacom channels, so I can buy Comedy Central and ignore MTV/VH1.

I have been half expecting Jon Stewart and a few others like Colbert to bolt from their Viacom overlords. Those two probably have the fan base and the clout that would allow them to establish their own network or take Comedy Central from under the Viacom umbrella. Obviously Viacom would not want to see them go, but those two plus South Park are about all CC has going for it at the moment. If two of the three or all three threatened to walk away Viacom would not have much bargaining power.

I realize that it didn’t work out so well for Oprah, but I have a feeling Stewart and Colbert are smart enough and ruthless enough to make it work.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:

“but those two plus South Park are about all CC has going for it at the moment”

Hey, what about Futurama? I’d count that in there too. I mean they did save it. Some of the episodes have been lackluster, but the majority overall have been great.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Now, if only I could watch the bastards shortly after they came out in the US legally…

I’d love to see them streaming on a website like South Park, and I am in the US. Even streaming to Hulu Plus would be good. Instead, I sit waiting for the season to come out on DVD (which I do with South Park too, but I get the value added of being able to see what it is I am waiting for before it comes out.)

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

My personal favorite thus far was the eyePhone episode.

“Okay, it’s $500, you have no choice of carrier, the battery can’t hold a charge and the reception isn’t very…”

That seriously cracked me up the first time I saw it. And of course Mom’s comment at the end of the episode was priceless (until they edited it out in later airings).

scuttlemonkey says:

Execs don't think like humans...

“It really makes you wonder if they have anyone at Viacom who thinks how the world will react to its crazy moves.”

Except most execs, especially media execs, don’t think in terms of consumers, community, or viral adoption. They think about the bottom line and (usually) the best way to make it look good in the immediate future. It’s really sad to see amazing viral and community building success stories come up time and again and yet the old-school execs can’t break away from their bondage and discipline approach to forcing communities to behave in a manner they think is appropriate.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Link to DailyShow had ad beforehand blaming DirectTV

Kills me that they added an ad which said DirectTV blocked 26 channels, when in fact it was Viacom that blocked them. Which is exactly what Jon talked about within the first few seconds of the clip.

Wish Jon would move his show off of Viacom/Comedy Central to a network that isn’t idiotic. But then again, if he did that, he’d likely lose all of his good material.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Link to DailyShow had ad beforehand blaming DirectTV

I wonder just how much the difference is between the extra money they wanted for the deal they refused and how much they pumped into the DirecTV smear campaign they’re running.

Don’t know. Since this ad was served from their website, probably not much. However, I’ve seen their smear campaigns on my cable connection too. They may have deals with the competitors of DirectTV to have a lower price for commercials, but I suspect you are probably right that they wasted more money on this than they would have pulled in.

What would be interesting to see is if they threaten to raise prices on cable again. Cable is already too expensive (though I think it is all pretty relative at the moment,) and I expect far more cable cord cutters would make things difficult for both the cable company and ultimately Viacom, who will call for another raise in prices because they aren’t getting the funding they need from advertisers because of lack of viewership.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Link to DailyShow had ad beforehand blaming DirectTV

Well the ad spot is also on Hulu and on the old fashioned radio. I imagine they had to pay for the radio ad spot at least. I wouldn’t know if it’s on TV.

I don’t know if it is still on TV, as all I get now is OTA, but it was back when this whole thing started and I hadn’t cut the cable. I think you’re right though.

A Non-Mouse says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Link to DailyShow had ad beforehand blaming DirectTV

“Not a network. It’s a service.”

Semantics. In today’s “on demand” world, networks (at least in their traditional sense) are a thing of the past. Thanks to the DVR, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what channel/network a program is released on, or even what time slot it airs in. Anything I care to watch is recorded and presented to me in a simple “here’s the stuff you wanted to watch” list. Network & original air date/time are irrelevant. NetFlix/Hulu/Amazon/etc are all just extensions of that same “on demand” mentality. Just another source of recordings to be added to my “wanted to watch” list.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Link to DailyShow had ad beforehand blaming DirectTV

Semantics. In today’s “on demand” world, networks (at least in their traditional sense) are a thing of the past.

Didn’t NetFlix announce a while back that they would be making exclusive content available on NetFlix Streaming? Oh Yeah, Lilyhammer. So in a way, they are kinda a channel now.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Link to DailyShow had ad beforehand blaming DirectTV

Didn’t NetFlix announce a while back that they would be making exclusive content available on NetFlix Streaming?

They’re also bringing back Arrested Development.

Personally, I love this move. Not only are they showing how to succeed and beat piracy (price + convenience), they’re also showing how that can lead to more shows being produced.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Link to DailyShow had ad beforehand blaming DirectTV

Is there a network that isn’t idiotic?

PBS? One of the OTA networks?

I don’t know, I think they are all pretty idiotic. I believe AMC wasn’t as idiotic in their approach of opening their channels up to bring in more viewers and thus ultimately putting pressure on Dish (since the Dish customers couldn’t get it from Dish, but could just go to the internet and get it instead.) It was in Dish’s best interest to keep their customers on Dish TV instead of going elsewhere.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Link to DailyShow had ad beforehand blaming DirectTV

Jon Stewart on PBS? I’m all for that.

If he would agree to some sort of a Kickstarter venture, or if they could get enough in donations to make the move, it could be possible. Would take a lot of money, I am afraid, but I wonder where the breakeven point would be for him to move to PBS. Also, without commercials, 22 minutes might be incredibly short.

Jeremy says:

Based on what I see in the comments section, I tend to think that Techdirt has a “fan following” of entertainment industry brass that likes to come here and troll. They see this site as enemy number 1. They likely refuse to acknowledge that their business model might need revision.

Some of the points made in comments in response to reasonable suggestions of customer satisfaction are just beyond human comprehension to the point of only possibly originating from the cult-like inner-circle that is the entertainment industry executives.

What children. They’re kids with publishing power who think their existence is somehow important.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I tend to think that Techdirt has a “fan following” of entertainment industry brass that likes to come here and troll. They see this site as enemy number 1. They likely refuse to acknowledge that their business model might need revision.

Yes, I think this is pretty blatantly obvious. It’s also very encouraging. If the movement to decriminalize culture wasn’t effective, they wouldn’t bother with the trolling. The troll count can be used as a rough barometer of our effectiveness.

Beech (profile) says:

“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.”

OH. I see. So because Pirate Jon Stewart talks about it that makes it ok for you to talk about it too?! I think not slimebag! What if Pirate Jon started talking about jumping off a bridge?

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

OH. I see. So because Pirate Jon Stewart talks about it that makes it ok for you to talk about it too?! I think not slimebag! What if Pirate Jon started talking about jumping off a bridge?

Sarcasm guys, sarcasm. I thought it was funny.

Somehow I can see in my mind a picture of Jon Stewart with the pirate hat, peg-leg, hook, and parrot, saying “Yarr,” a lot. It’s a stretch, but it is possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Fuck Them - DON'T PAY

What – you can’t get the shit you paid the fuckers for?

Do you have no self-respect at all? People used to get shot for this sort of bullshit. But you just sit there and take it?

Do you really think that your life should be fucked with by the childish ego of some hideously overpaid useless IQ 14 asshole sonofabitch jerk-off at Fuck Co Inc?

The bastards must die ASAP. Starving them to death is legal.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

When I get under your skin, I really get under your skin, eh, Pirate Mike. Yes, a comedian made a joke about it. There’s a difference between his having mentioned it in a joke and your cult-like repetition of the mantra. He’s not trying to apologize for the basement-dwellers like you are. He doesn’t have a blog dedicated to hardcore pirate-apologism like you do. But yeah, he mentioned in a joke something that you say all the time to your legions. Yippee! I’m happy for you.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Jon didn’t just make a joke, he pointed out how stupid, arrogant, and pointless Viacom’s actions were and said it was bad for business – his own business.

But I guess you can just demean him as a comedian the same way you seem to get enormous pleasure from constantly demeaning Mike.

What, did Mike steal your lunch money in grade school or something?

Pitabred (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Uhh… apologize? Saying “Hey, the sky is blue” isn’t apologizing, it’s recognizing reality. In this case, Mike is just recognizing the reality of human behavior.

News flash… human nature controls people MUCH more strongly than any amount of law. If you want to succeed, basing your business on law and ignoring human nature is a very silly proposition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You know you just outed yourself as said critic. A bit hilarious considering if Mike were to quote your exact words you’d be having a fit saying he cross referenced your IP and violated your right to anonymity and privacy.

You really aren’t good at the game are you? That being “keep your mouth shut so no one actually knows who you are”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

A person deciding to reference their own anonymous posts is different than Pirate Mike looking at the IP addresses and doing the same. For a guy who whines so very much about privacy on the internet, when you get on his bad side, he starts chomping at the bit for a chance to violate his commentator’s privacy. He’s just too immature to have the responsibility that comes with having a website that allows anonymous comment. When it’s his own honor on the line, he’ll do anything.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

violate his commentator’s privacy

He has never once revealed your name, where you’re from, or any other personal information. Nothing about your privacy has been violated.

It’s pretty telling (and sad) when you have to invent personal insults in order to excuse your tirelessly vindictive attacks. Then again, I should expect nothing less than someone who uses the phrase “Pirate Mike.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s not violating your privacy. If he cross referenced IPs between sites in any way, correlated the IP with any information other than to associate it with the activity on this single self contained site, or otherwise engaged in correlations that intrude on privacy, you’d have a strong point. As it is, you got nothing.

No one knows anything except publicly made comment A and publicly made comment B, both made on web site, have the same author. That does not violate anyone’s privacy. Get a grip.

Bastage says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

If you stop fucking typing “Pirate Mike”, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will nimp you and make your children watch 2 kids in a sandbox.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think as a child, he was made fun for being a loser at hide and seek. Because he doesn’t need to type in a pseudonym; his raucous rants of “Pirate Mike” do all the naming for him more than IP addresses could ever do.

This topic isn’t even worth the debate he’s trying to call Mike out on. Stewart’s show was ridiculously blocked from paying customers, he complained, show back on – how the hell is that Techdirt’s fault?

I think this guy is locked in a dank room with a computer and given the instructions “It goes to Techdirt and insults Pirate Mike or it gets the hose again” or something.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Good FSM man, do you ever bother to think about what you say?

Mike points out facts that the content industry needs to understand and you call it “pirate apoligy”

What’s next? Mike will point out that people don’t like porn on TV channels children can view and you will call him a parent apologist?

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

on a similar but not really related note: not only is it forbidden to end a sentence with a preposition, It’s Impossible. the moment you put it after the noun it goes with it’s a post-position. (all pre and post positions collectively are adpositions.) … English is just really erratic about the proper placement of it’s adverbial and ad-positional phrases.

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