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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  1. identicon
    Blardy Bligam, 12 Jul 2012 @ 4:44pm

    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.

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