Channels Viacom logo on a New York City building

Published on March 20th, 2019 | by Bill Stiteler


DirectTV Now may lose 23 Viacom channels

“Someone’s always playing corporation games,” Grace Slick once warned us. “Who cares, they’re always changing corporation names.” Now her chilling, prophetic warning has come to pass as television conglomerate Viacom announced they may pull their channels from the DirectTV Now streaming app over a contract dispute.

Truly, Marconi plays the mamba in this cruel new streaming reality.

With their current carriage agreement with AT&T and its various services including DirecTV Now and WatchTV (both streaming services available on Apple TV) ending at midnight on March 22nd, Viacom has begun to play hardball, rolling out ads warning customers that they could soon lose programming.

As we reported last week, AT&T has already dropped many Viacom channels in their new DirecTV Now packages, and Viacom feels that AT&T is not playing fair.

“Unfortunately, AT&T is abusing its new market position by favoring its own content – which significantly underperforms Viacom’s – to stifle competition,” Viacom issued in a released statement. “AT&T-DirecTV’s behavior is also consistent with a recent pattern of gouging their customers by charging them higher prices for an inferior product with fewer channels. Especially troubling, AT&T-DirecTV is marginalizing diverse audiences in its new DTV packages and threatening to do the same with their existing products.

reddit-viacom_directv_now_picIn the middle of negotiations over broadcast rights for its 23 networks with AT&T, Viacom has started playing hardball by including intermittent messages in its programming warning consumers their channels could soon be dropped from DirecTV Now and Watch TV. (Image courtesy u/GoEagles997)

Still, there’s hope a deal can be reached. In a memo to employees, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish stated, “This would be our first disruption since 2014, so we remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement that fairly values the amazing entertainment brought to life by our brands, and by your talent, creativity and hard work.”

The memo also encouraged employees to share the link which continues to be updated with relevant information.

DirecTV Now, WatchTV, DirecTV satellite service, and U-verse TV – all owned by AT&T – carry up to 23 Viacom networks. The networks that could be removed include: MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1, BET, Paramount Network, Nick Jr., CMT, TV Land, Logo, MTV2, Nicktoons, TeenNick, MTV Classic, NickMusic, MTV Live, BET Her, CMT Music, BET Jams, Tr3s, BET Soul, BET Gospel and MTVU.

Obviously, it’s in the interest of the individual consumer to have as much of any company’s back product to be available. It’ll be interesting to see how this particular argument shakes out over the next couple of days.

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About the Author

Bill Stiteler has been covering technology since the 90s, with a focus on Macintosh games and video production.

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