Money Matters - Simplified

DirecTV and Viacom bury hatchet, reach agreement

The deal restores 17 channels (including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, Spike, CMT, TV Land and ten other channels) that Viacom had taken away from DirecTV customers on July 10.

The recent standoff between cable programming giant Viacom and satellite broadcaster DirecTV over television carriage fees has been finally resolved.

After a 10-day contract dispute that left nearly 20 million satellite customers staring at blank screens instead of MTV, Comedy Central, Vh1, Nickelodeon, among others, Viacom reached a new agreement with DirecTV on Friday.

Last week, the two parties were unable to agree to a new contract, or extend the one they've had for seven years, leading to a blackout that had kept 26 channels off air.

Derek Chang, executive vice president of Content Strategy and Development for DIRECTV, said, "We are very pleased to be able to restore the channels to our customers and thank them for their unprecedented patience and support.

"It's unfortunate that Viacom took the channels away from customers to try to gain leverage, but in the end, it's clear our customers recognized that tactic for what it was."

New 7 year contract
The companies provided little information about the financial terms and conditions of their new seven year contract.

Viacom was seeking a price increase of 30 percent amounting to $1 billion on its bundle of channels.

Given that DirecTV was previously paying $2.25 a month per subscriber to carry Viacom's channels, experts theorize that the programming fee after the accord is likely to be in the $2.80 range.

The deal restores 17 channels (including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, Spike, CMT, TV Land and ten other channels) that Viacom had taken away from DirecTV customers on July 10.

According to Viacom, the agreement includes “an option [for DirecTV] to add the EPIX service to its entertainment offerings.”

As part of the deal, satellite customers will now be able to access Viacom's channels on tablets, laptops and other mobile devices outside the home through the DirecTV Everywhere platform.

Viacom appeared to have been hurt most by the contract dispute. Its shares fell two percent and full day ratings for its channels were down 20 percent during the ongoing spat.

Expressing satisfaction over the pact, New York based Viacom said, "Viacom is extremely pleased to bring its programming back to DIRECTV subscribers, and thanks everyone affected by the disruption for their patience and understanding during this challenging period".