In the ongoing epic battle between DirecTV and Viacom, it would appear that there is no limit to how far either side will go to prove their point while making the other side look downright evil. That eventually these two will resume a partnership that will bring both sides massive profits is irrelevant this week with Viacom pulling all of its programming from DirecTV following a fee dispute.
Following the blackout by either DirecTV or Viacom — depending on which statement you’d like to believe — on Tuesday, 20 (or 30 million, according to DirecTV’s website) million customers have been forced to go without beloved cable shows such as The Jersey Shore, Blue Clue’s, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Yet, all hope was not lost. At least they were able to watch the programming online, one of the complaints levied by DirecTV against Viacom.
Until today that is. “Viacom has taken a number of full episodes of programs like The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report off its websites. The step was taken to prevent DirecTV customers from accessing the content, but in turn shut off everyone else as well.” While clips and older episodes are still available for online viewing, with more than 4,500 episodes available online today, current full episodes are no longer available explains Carl Folta Viacom’s spokesman. Unfortunately, unlike the Cablevision/Fox battle, DirecTV is not a broadband company, so the only way to ensure DirecTV customers are unable to watch thier beloved shows is to black-out everyone from them.
“The damage this will do to both companies image is another matter entirely. DirecTV customers could get further riled up against their TV provider, and Viacom is using all of its web properties to stir that sentiment,” which makes this a dangerous operation for DirecTV, especially when the increase charges to customers would likely be in the $1 range. “However, customers of other TV service providers could feel like Viacom is unjustly dragging them into a fight that they’ve got no beef in,” leaving other customers with a bad taste in their mouth without any true course of action.
DirecTV is the second largest provider of subscription television services behind Comcast. Viacom owns dozens of channels such as Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and Nick Jr. Both are major conglomerates that rack in huge multi-billion dollar profits and are bickering like children over an antiquated fee structure that formerly favored DirecTV, keeping their costs low. Viacom wants DirecTV to pay “rates closer to what other big distributors are paying. How this story will play out is still up in the air, both sides claim to desire a resolution to the chaos caused by this blackout, yet both sides appear to be adamant in the other’s ill-intentions.