Viacom Tells DirecTV Customers To Complain In Order To Get Free Stuff

We’re now a few days into the fight between Viacom and DirecTV that has left nearly 20 million of the satellite service’s customers without 26 channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. And while the two parties are reportedly trying to hammer out a resolution, Viacom’s Twitter account is only stoking the anti-DirecTV fires.

Yesterday afternoon, the broadcaster Tweeted, “Call DirectTV at 800-531-5000 and get free stuff,” and linked to this CNN.com article about people who had been able to talk the satellite provider into getting discounts and free premium channels by complaining.

The @Viacom account has also taken to re-Tweeting other users’ gripes about the blackout of their favorite networks and shows.

This is our personal favorite: “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? I don’t know, I have directv,” Tweets @BrandyLuvsBeer.

After pulling the channels from its lineup late Tuesday night, DirecTV began instructing angry customers on ways they could watch some of their favorite shows online. However, Viacom responded by pulling a number of full-length episodes from their websites.

DirecTV claims that Viacom is attempting to raise the price on its package of channels by around $1 billion. Meanwhile, Viacom counters that its recently expired 7-year-old contract with the satellite provider was “ancient” and not representative of what the rest of the industry pays.

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  1. cactus jack says:

    Petty little bitches ain’t they?

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Yeah, why should either one of them care about the $1 billion that hangs in the balance? Pfft. All corporations should operate at breakeven and give all their profits to charity anyway, right?

      • cactus jack says:

        Yep, that’s exactly what I said.

        Don’t give a shit about Viacom or DirectTV and wouldn’t shed a tear if they both dropped off the face of the Earth. However, both sides are being petty little bitches trying to use their customers (you) for their own gain.

        Just calling it like I see it. Now go find an actual liberal to troll.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          …um, *all* companies “use” their customers for their own gain. By charging them money for their products/services. That’s how it works.

          As for being “petty” – as noted, the amount of money in question isn’t exactly petty change. And their antics seem fairly tit-for-tat…DirecTV telling people just to watch Viacom programming for free online and then Viacom telling people to get discounts or whatever from DirecTV because they’re getting less programming now.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Oh, and for the record I don’t care about either company either, and would be perfectly happy in seeing both of them go bankrupt.

          I’m not going to “care” about the whole industry until such time as all channels are offered on a cafeteria plan from all service providers. Then, I might just care.

  2. Guppy06 says:

    Are they this childish when they deal with advertisers (i.e. their customers)?

  3. aleck says:

    I don’t know the details of the contract dispute, but judging from Viacom’s public actions, they are certainly pulling a lot of dick moves.

  4. Bagels says:

    I still have Perry Mason reruns, I’m cool

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    So I don’t need to do anything to get screwed by corporations, but after I get screwed by them, and they know they screwed me and millions of others, I’m the one that has to go out of his way for recompense?

  6. Vermont2US says:

    Obviously Viacom is hurting more than DirecTV – they’re probably pretty worried about not getting their multi-million $ check from DirecTV at the end of the month. Gonna hurt their cash flow for sure.

    • frank64 says:

      Plus the loss in viewers means loss of advertising revenue. I think DTV is 13% of Viacom’s business.

    • ZachPA says:

      Frankly, both parties should be ashamed of themselves. But for the purposes of this argument, I must place my allegiance with DirecTV. Although the likelihood of “keeping [our] bills low” is suspect, the fact that Viacom and just about every other broadcaster keeps raising the carriage fees directly results in higher costs to watch television.

      Little does Viacom know that there are lots of folks ready with alternate options, especially the sorts of people who might watch Comedy Central and MTV, those being the 13-35 demographic who aren’t afraid of technology and who generally know how to make technology and the Internet work to their advantage. In other words: I, and a million of my counterparts, will just go online and download the programming we want to watch. Of course, the downloaded version will not have any opportunity for Viacom to advertise.

      But then again, that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? If Viacom is not carried on DirecTV, that’s 30 million fewer customers who could watch through the usual channels, and 30 million fewer customers who could contribute to the network’s share. Advertisers look at that. If Viacom’s properties’ value is diluted by 25% or more– because after all, who wants to spend full price if only reaching 75% of the viewership–where are they going to get the cash to make up the difference?

      This all, of course, is pursuant to the notion that if Viacom had programming worth watching –and advertisers paying for airtime–there would be no need to raise the carriage fees to make up the difference

      This impasse has an effect on DirecTV, also. Not only is their service less valuable, and customers less likely to choose a package with channels they like missing, but customers tend to flee to the competition during blackouts such as this.

      Viacom urges folks to contact DirecTV and tell them they are being obstinate fools, while DirecTV tells its subscribers to call or write Viacom and tell them they are greedy bastards.

      I hope this impasse is resolved sooner rather than later. Because I already pay what I feel is a ton of money every month for entertainment that I enjoy less and less, I side with DirecTV. I want some stasis in my cable TV expense, and Viacom’s demands for an increase in carriage fees threatens to add at least $25 a year to my expense.

  7. jeepguy57 says:

    I’m fortunate to have a smaller, local cable provider that (knock on wood) seems to avoid a lot of these issues, probably because they don’t bring enough customers and $$$ into these contracts. My guess is that the big networks don’t worry about the little cable companies. Yet.

    That being said, this is the type of stuff that makes me want to cancel cable altogether, just to stop supporting corporations like Viacom. This is ridiculous, petty and will only screw the customers in the end.

  8. Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

    So, has anybody called DirecTV? And, if so, what have they gotten as an apology prize?

    • Charles Edward Winthrop III, Esquire, Investigator of the Unknown Music says:

      I tried, but they kept going on about how “you have to actually BE a DirectTV customer,” so I got nothing from them.

  9. Red_Eye says:

    So separate all 26 of the viacom channels out of the packages(remove their cost from our monthly price) and make them all a package on their own charging the prices Viacom is demanding. If no one buys.. well…..

    • frank64 says:

      Yes! That SHOULD be how it is handled. Viacom will not allow it though. that would be just too fair. It is either take all the channels for everybody, or take nothing. This is something I think the FTC could address, it would put the power back in the consumers pocket.

  10. chipmonger says:

    I was offered $28/month off for a year – I’m out of contract and probably going back to Comcast. I already have internet through them, and getting the double-play only makes sense. This time though, I’m not renting boxes – have a media center PC set up with extenders. Whole house DVR FTW!

    • LuzioFantazmic says:

      $28/mo off isn’t a bad deal at all. The one year contract, I’m assuming that was part of the deal, isn’t so great.

      • chipmonger says:

        The content cost I can deal with, but the box rental fee is the killer. We have 1 DVR and 4 tuners – that’s were the cost jumps. When Comcast switched from analog to digital, to have the same level of service at each TV, our cable bill more than doubled due to the box rental fees. Now, with the media center PC and two HD Homerun Primes, I’ll only need two M-Cards to cover the house – and have more capabilities.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      We used to have Comcast internet/cable, but when we moved 10 miles to a new town the picture quality took a shit. I couldn’t believe one town over we would have snow on HD channels (same TV). So we got DirecTV just for cable, which has an excellent picture, but having 2 seperate services like that is way more expensive.

      Sucks. I don’t want to go back to snow, but I miss my Comedy Central.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’m hoping DirecTV doesn’t back down, and Viacom eventually offers their content al la carte.

    • frank64 says:

      History says that they will back down and pay much more than they do now. I wish it wasn’t so. The only thing that can change that is that DirectTV and cable knows that they have pretty much hit a ceiling on prices, they are not going to want to accelerate the cutting of the cord.

      I think we are talking about 5$ a month per subscriber? The problem is there are a lot of other networks, which means more $5s a month adding up to real money.

      • Southern says:

        Actually we did the math on it in a different post on the subject, and it turned out that Viacom was asking for about an extra 90¢ per month, per subscriber, for their programming. (20,000,000 subscribers, 5 year contract length, $1,000,000,000.)

        Of course DirectTV has to mark that up a bit for profit, and although an extra dollar a month doesn’t SOUND like a lot, agreeing to it sets a precedent for that other content providers to ask for an extra dollar a month for THEIR content.. So now when you have 20 different content providers all asking for an extra dollar, now your bill suddenly jumps up $20 a month.

    • Jawaka says:

      I agree. Its not always easy and convenient to do the right thing.

  12. Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

    This is ridiculous. I generally don’t want to side with the carriers, but this time I think it’s pretty clear that Viacom is the aggressor in this one. Of course, Viacom is not known to being fuzzy, happy people. They’re the ones who constantly demand videos be taken down from YouTube if a song just happens to be playing in the background.

    I mean, the way DirectTV has been handling this is respectable, while Viacom is taking down streaming video for EVERYONE just to spite DirectTV customers and they’re posting these childish tweets. At this point, I wish all the carriers would band together to agree not to carry any Viacom channels. It would be a sacrifice for everyone, sure, but this is just unacceptable behavior.

    • consumerd says:

      Snookie is not a sacrifice…. she can go away just fine… if everyone really wanted to stand up bit-torrent and a vpn can suffice. I am fixing to re-homebrew my nintendo wii (it has a media player) and stick the episodes right on the disk itself. I am fixing to test this with the showtime show “The borgias” if it works, I plan on cutting my tv expenses quite a bit more frequently. The machine just sits there why not use it!

      • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

        You’re right. Snookie is NOT a sacrifice. It’s what we in Indiana call a Hog Roast.

        • videoman says:

          A sacrifice must be a virgin. That would going waaaaay back in time to find a version of Snookie that’s acceptable to sacrifice.

    • frank64 says:

      I wonder if all carriers banding together would be collusion? The funny thing is that the mega corps like Viacom with multiple channels are able to collude because the channels are under the same corp. It would seem that the FTC should be able to force Viacom to not bundle its channels so that the carriers would not be forced to accept channels it doesn’t want. Then allow the carriers to make higher prices shows optional to the consumer. Pricing would then better reflect the value, and consumers wouldn’t have to pay for something they don’t want. It would be the best of a la carte without some of the negatives.

  13. dolemite says:

    I’m cheering for DirecTV on this one.

    • Lombard Montague says:

      Me too. It’s about time a TV provider stood up to these networks who want a king’s ransom for 5 channels no one watches and 2 that some people do. DirecTV knows Viacom’s channels are not worth what they are wanting paid.

      If DirecTV caves, the next time a bigger network’s contract comes up, they are going to use Viacom’s deal as leverage. It’s just like professional sports. If you pay Phillip Rivers $20 million a year, Tom Brady is going to want $30 million. Sorry, I don’t want to pay $200/month for cable and DirecTV knows if they keep having to raise their prices, people will cut the cord.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Yep. Which is why I complained to Viacom and not DirecTV. Who, by the way, has been very accomodating while I’m job hunting.

      • Southern says:

        Me too. It’s about time a TV provider stood up to these networks who want a king’s ransom for 5 channels no one watches and 2 that some people do. DirecTV knows Viacom’s channels are not worth what they are wanting paid.

        Dish Network already told AMC to go pound sand when AMC tried to raise their carriage prices.

        in retaliation, AMC is going to stream (for free) the season premier of “Breaking Bad” and is going to heavily advertise (during the commercials for the streamed version, but not for the aired version) that all viewers cancel their Dish Network subscriptions and sign up with a different satellite/cable company so that they can watch the rest of the season’s episodes.

  14. consumerd says:

    This is why I have utorrent and a vpn. I can see spongebob squarepants just fine and watch as many times as like commercial, snookie, and kardashian free.

    So I guess to directv and viacom I can say… “thanks!”

  15. Stickdude says:

    Hmmm…. would this make it ok for DirectTV to start tweeting links to Viacom shows on TPB?

  16. dush says:

    This is so dumb. People act like missing a few tv shows is like being denied food, electricity or running water.

    • AzCatz07 says:

      Nobody is acting like that. Dramatic much?

      People are acting like consumers who feel they should get what they paid for. If it doesn’t affect you personally, then stay out of it.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      NOW I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO PIRATE UR SHOWS! WAAAARRRRRRGGGGAAARRRRRBBBBBBLLLLLLLLLL!

      • Jawaka says:

        You mean that actually doing without isn’t a choise?

        Nope clearly either getting it legally from your carrier or piracy are the only options

        /facepalm

    • who? says:

      I’m not getting that from the comments here. Are you?

      • frank64 says:

        If you want to just wait a year or so for content you can get most everything from Nerflix for $8 a month. Pay another $8 to Hulu Plus and cut the wait down dramatically or $8 to Netflix DVD and expand the content dramatically. All except Hulu are commercial free, and Hulu has much less commercials at least for now. I know

        I use Amazon prime streaming and normal Hulu and don’t feel I am missing out.I think I have more control than I would, and don’t watch any commercial. It BETTER and cheaper without cable. I have bought a few seasons of used DVD’s and you can also buy many must have shows on Amazon. That would satisfy the thing I often here: “I would drop cable but I need to watch my(some show).”

    • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

      Just be patient. Soon the shows you miss will be shown triple-fold. Can’t even guess how many times I’ve seen each episode of Supernatural, Las Vegas, American Pickers, American Chopper…….

  17. frank64 says:

    This fight seems like it is a turning point. I see most now siding with DTV instead of Viacom. In the past people where like why can’t my cable provider pay the extra money, and eat the extra costs. They would say I don’t care, I want my channels. Now most seem to realize it is a major reason for the high bills. In many things the middleman gets blamed because consumers don’t’ think things through very much. The high bills are getting them to think.

    This will come down to how the customers respond, if they end up supporting DTV then Viacom will end up receiving much less and this will set a precedent for Viacom’s and other future dealings with cable. Why can’t the networks that show such large amount of commercials see cable/satellite as a distribution service for their commercials?

  18. ColoradoShark says:

    Flushmate III Pressure-Assist Flushing System – May shatter toilet tank.

    OK, so that wasn’t the bad tacos I had last night!

    • ColoradoShark says:

      Stupid commenting system. Wrong post. Although Viacom, DirectTV, and toilets all have something in common….

  19. KyBash says:

    I’m hoping DirecTV doesn’t back down.

    Dramatic increases in costs with a shrinking potential customer base spells disaster.

    The practical solution is to let Viacom charge what they want as a separate tier people have to subscribe to.

    I still maintain the only fair system is:
    1) If there are commercials, there isn’t a carriage fee.
    2) If there aren’t commercials, people can subscribe to it as a separate charge.

  20. merc669 says:

    Hooray for Direct-TV. They need to stand their ground. Viacom needs to grow up. Most of their shows are repeats and have not had new episodes for ages. It would be nice to see some up-to-date shows on Nic and Spike. Other than those we will not miss anything else. Offer it via Ala-Cart and see what gets picked up. I will pay for the two but the rest you can keep.

  21. chipmonger says:

    Just got back from the Comcast desk at my local Best Buy (yeah, I know). Was able to get Performance Internet/Preferred TV for about $75/month for two years. Gonna save over $90/month compare to what I pay now. Of course, there were some upfront costs to get the equipment I’m using, but it’ll pay for itself in the long run.

  22. Fred says:

    Ok if I can’t get a-la-carte then Directv should make a Viacom package. Let’s see how many viewers will pay for it, I’d be willing to bet not $1 billion worth.

    • frank64 says:

      See my response to Red Eye. Viacom, and all Networks will not let that happen. They charge a lesser amount for all subscribers with no choice instead of charging a little more to only those that want their channel. They make much more this way, and use the this way or the highway strategy.Microsoft did this with Windows. If they have at least one channel that consumers really want, the provider cannot take the highway, the outrage from the consumer that some favorite channel is not there means they have to cave. This scenario has played out many, many times, and is why some pay upwards of $100 for many channels they do not watch.

  23. Rockfish says:

    As far as I’m concerned, DirecTV can drop all Viacom channels and then lower my monthly bill.
    It’s way past time for cable & satellite providers to tell these greedy networks to go pack sand.

    Poll on DBSTalk: Would you miss Viacom?
    http://goo.gl/wTXar

  24. MarkFL says:

    Here’s a suggestion for a counter-offer from DirecTV. We’ll pay the extra if:

    1) Commercials limited to 7.5 minutes per 30 minutes of actual program content on new programming. Our customers shouldn’t pay more money to watch programming that consists of 1/3 commercials.
    2) No more promoting shows on-screen in the middle of another show.
    3) No more reality shows on MTV. Not even repeats. Ever.
    4) No more showing a movie, followed by a repeat of the same movie. It’s as if you’re not even trying anymore.