Update: The story originally said that Viacom said that Charter was “Putting the Screws on Programmers” who work with live TV streaming Services. That statement came from a FierceCable story but Viacom today contacted Cord Cutters News to let us know that the memo did not say that. The “Putting the Screws on Programmers” statement was a paraphrase from FierceCable, not Viacom.
One of the biggest carrier disputes in years is taking place right now as Viacom and Charter’s Spectrum TV service are fighting over a new contract.
This morning they agreed to a short-term extension to keep Viacom channels on Spectrum TV, but no details have been given as to how long it will last. At any time Viacom channels could vanish from the second largest cable provider in the United States.
The issue seems to be that Charter moved Viacom channels into higher, more costly, packages. It also seems, at least according to a report by FierceCable, that “Charter is putting the screws on programmers who sign programming deals with virtual MVPDs in an effort to thwart the nascent distribution trend.” (MVPDs are an industry term for live TV streaming services such as Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW.)
Here is what Viacom said in their memo last week:
“Despite these efforts, Charter continues to insist on unreasonable and extreme terms that are totally inconsistent with the market. As a result, we have not been able to reach a deal. Among the issues we face is Charter’s attempt to inhibit the creation of smaller, more innovative and less expensive packages of the networks customers want, by penalizing Viacom if it participates in new skinny bundles or OTT streaming platforms. This is an ultimatum that’s impossible to accommodate. “
That would not be unprecedented as it was recently reported that Comcast is also trying to clamp down on cheaper streaming deals. According to a report last week, Comcast is telling smaller cable companies if they offer a cheap sports-free package Comcast will pull their NBC Sports Networks from the cable networks’ line up.
It is interesting to see Viacom say Charter is trying to punish them for working with live TV streaming services. Especially because last year Viacom pulled much of their content from Hulu and PlayStation Vue in an effort to promote traditional pay TV. Viacom has also not included their channels in many of the newer live TV streaming services.
For now we don’t know what will happen, but it’s clear that both Charter and Viacom are concerned about the future of pay TV and both are working hard to get the best deal possible; however, if the deal doesn’t go through, it could soon leave many Charter subscribers without their favorite channels.
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