DirecTV Customers May Lose Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Others Tonight At Midnight

UPDATE: As of midnight ET, Viacom channels are blacked out on DirecTV, replaced by a loop of the satellite company’s CEO Mike White explaining DirecTV’s side of the story.

When broadcasters and satellite/cable companies duke it out over carriage fees, there is usually a protracted, very public build-up in the weeks leading up to the contract deadline. But nearly 20 million DirecTV customers could be caught by surprise tonight if a deal isn’t made with Viacom.

In all, customers could lose — at least temporarily — 26 channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central, at midnight tonight.

The contract between the two parties, which Viacom describes as “ancient,” was originally set to expire on June 30 but was extended before that deadline.

In a statement released last night, Viacom claimed that “DirecTV refuses to consider a fair deal that recognizes the value of Viacom programming.”

For its part, DirecTV claims that Viacom is demanding a 30% increase in the fees it charges DirecTV for carrying its networks. The satellite company says this increase amounts to “more than a billion dollars extra.”

“If Viacom wants so much more, then we believe your family needs to be able to choose which Viacom networks you want to pay to keep and which ones you don’t,” writes DirecTV.

This slap-fight comes on the heels of twin disputes between AMC Networks and both AT&T U-Verse and Dish. In those cases, Dish held firm on its decision to not pay AMC a higher fee, leaving customers without AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel and WeTV; while AT&T U-Verse reached a last-minute deal with AMC.


Edit Your Comment

  1. akronharry says:

    Bye,Bye, So Long, Farewell.
    I’m one of those that pay for only broadcast basic (live in a valley) so won’t miss the crap anyway.

  2. LuzioFantazmic says:


    • alana0j says:

      OMG I am PISSED. the apartment I live in includes all utilities, including cable. DirectTV is our provider and we have no choice in the matter. I switched to Nickelodeon a bit ago to see if there was something on that my daughter and I could watch together and the channel was silent and I saw the message scrolling across the bottom regarding losing the channel. This is BS! How the hell will I watch Tosh.0 and Workaholics when the kids are in bed?? AHHHHH!!!!

  3. Cat says:

    HULU, or ROKU + PlayOn.

    Why pay for TV?

  4. dolemite says:

    “If Viacom wants so much more, then we believe your family needs to be able to choose which Viacom networks you want to pay to keep and which ones you don’t,” Yes…YES! This is what consumers have been screaming for, for about 20 or more years now. We only want to pay for channels we want! Even if it means “Backwoods Redneck Shopping Network” goes out of business or costs $4 per month.

    • ZachPA says:

      The Backwoods Redneck Shopping Network pays DirecTV for coverage.

    • bhr says:

      Actually, the shopping and religious channels are free or in some cases pay the distributor to carry the network.

      What will happen for most people is that the channels they want will jump in cost significantly and most customers will get less for similar prices while new networks will have a higher barrier to enter the market.

      For example, Right now viacom provides 26 channels at $.25/each (ballpark guess). If we get to pick and choose do you think viacom will want less income or will the 10 most popular viacom channels jump to $1/each? Meanwhile will a company like viacom or universal introduce a new network if they have to count on individual customers to demand it? Would channels like G4 or Style have even gotten a shot if the studio didn’t have the leverage to get them on most major systems?

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      OK, so I live under a rock, and have a scaled back Comcast TV package. I googled “Backwoods Redneck Shopping Network” and the first thing that popped up in the search was HSN, and then this Consumerist article. I am still laughing.

      **disclaimer, I am a backwoods redneck sort, and I thought I might be missing out on a resource for fancy backwoods redneck items I may not own yet. :)

  5. Me says:

    It’s almost as if the telecom companies WANT everyone to cut the cord.

  6. Velvet Jones says:

    For everyone that complains about cable cost, this is the reason. Content providers have way to much power, and can simply demand a huge increase at the next contract renewal. That 30% is not going to be eaten by DirectTv, they’ll simply add it on to your bill.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Funny how they rope you into a “contract” where you can’t leave but they get to hike up the price.

      • Anne Noise says:

        This has been one of the most constantly irritating parts of being a consumer in America. If DirecTV and Viacom have a disagreement, and I lose those channels, how is it DirecTV not liable to provide some kind of replacement or pro-rated refund for the content I was told I would be provided? Why am I, as a paying customer, punished for their bullshit?

        • ZachPA says:

          This is a concept I totally agree with. The problem is that when we sign the contract for service at initiation, we agree that DirecTV (or Dish, or your local cable co) has the right to add, modify, or remove content offered without notice and without recourse. So in other words, DirecTV can choose to get rid of ESPN (and its $5 per month per subscriber carriage fee) and there’s nothing you can do about it if you are still under an agreement.

          Technically speaking, you could sue to get a judge to declare that the removal of ESPN (or insert your own broadcaster here) constitutes a materially adverse change to the level of service offered, and therefore significantly decreases the value of such a service. The only problem there is that you agreed to mandatory binding arbitration when you signed your service agreement with the carrier. So, no class action suits, no major difficulties for the carrier.

          The bigger problem is that consumers allow businesses to dictate the terms by which they will provide goods and/or services. We got away from the notion that consumers dictate how businesses provide to us. When we allow business to tell us what to do, we give up every bit of leverage there is to lose.

          In a perfect world, we vote with our wallets. If you don’t like what DirecTV is doing, then you won’t pay them money, and you won’t receive their service. You can’t begin new DirecTV service without agreeing to their many contract terms, so you go without their service (and they go without your money) if you don’t agree. If you want or need service badly, you succumb to the agreement and they win your cash for a two-year period.

          What makes this system broken is the consumer who doesn’t care that DirecTV is foisting upon him zero choice. It’s the minions who blindly agree to contracts without realizing what rights they are relinquishing by signing and agreeing to service.

          It will never come to fruition, but what would happen if consumers suddenly started either negotiating with DirecTV or blatently refusing to sign their contracts? In a world where most business is conducted over the telephone or online, nothing. In a world where business is conducted face-to-face over a counter, the carrier would see what the sticking points are and they would adjust their contracts if they believe they are losing too many prospective customers. Because of its position, DirecTV is not likely ever to adjust the contract unless forced to by the government or they fit to add terms that further restrict consumers’ rights or expectations.

          • JJFIII says:

            I have been with DirectV for well over 15 years and never once have I signed a contract that locks me in. The only provision in my agreement is with regards to equipment. If this happens, and you call DirectV, they have already said they will do what it takes to make customers happy. This may include refunds or free service 9a DVR or HD). I hope DirectV holds firm and tells Viacom ( the company with some of the largest ratings declines in the industry) to fuck off.

      • Jawaka says:

        This isn’t snark but do cable companies really require people to sign a contract where you guys live? I have Comcast in Connecticut and I’ve never had a contract. I can dump them and move on to a competitor whenever I want. I always assumed it was the same everywhere.

        • Sudonum says:

          It’s like a cell phone contract, you can pay full price for the service (and equipment in some cases) and not have to sign a contract. But if you sign for two years then you get all the freebies and discounts. That was my Cox account. But unlike cell phone contracts, you HAVE to be a new customer to get the discounts.

          I just signed up with Direct after ditching Cox, I get a free year of NFL Sunday Ticket and pretty serious discount the first year. The second year discount isn’t as good, but it’s still less than I was paying Cox for fewer channels. And I get Sunday Ticket for a year free.

          Sucks that I might be losing Comedy Central, but I do have Hulu+ so I can cope. I agree that cable companies have to start drawing the line somewhere with these renewals because we the end user is always going to be the one paying in the end.

  7. crispyduck13 says:

    If Viacom wants so much more, then we believe your family needs to be able to choose which Viacom networks you want to pay to keep and which ones you don’t,” writes DirecTV.

    Fine, keep Comedy Central or I’ll be shopping for a new provider. And just how is DirecTV soliciting these choices? I haven’t seen or heard diddly squat from them about this.

    • njack says:

      Same thing is going on right now with Dish and AMC. I’ve informed Dish that they need to provide me the season premier of Breaking Bad this Sunday one way or another or they will lose me as a customer. I already have my cancellation letter drafted.

      • kevin.oconnor7 says:

        Call up Dish and go to cancellations. Tell them your displeasure about not being able to see Breaking Bad because of lack of AMC and that you are planning on going to DirectTV. Then ask what can they offer to make up from that. People have reported awesome retention offers because of this. One person was offered $35/mo off for a year to subscribe to the series on Amazon, and another person was offered a free Roku 2 XD and $10/mo off for a year to also subscribe to the series on Amazon. Unfortunately I don’t know how soon after it airs that Amazon will have it.

    • JJFIII says:

      DirectV has NO OPTION to just get Comedy Central. Viacomm is FORCING an all or nothing stance. If they want any programming, they must take it all. The same thing AMC is doing. The morons who run Viacomm and all other providers are just killing their golden egg. The only one group who will always win in this will be sporting event or live type events. I do nto want to watch the Super Bowl the next day, but I can watch Tosh.O or Breaking Bad the next day online.

  8. Gman says:

    Really the only result is that we the consumers loose.

    Option 1: we loose easy access to the channels and their shows.
    Option 2: we pay more in a future bill for those same shows. Even if we only watch one of those 26 channels.

    The chances of DirecTV ever following through on their choose your own channel idea is wishful thinking. Likely they just said it to get the consumer on their side. Then will come back with “oh this will be something we bring to Viacom as a proposal and let it “die in committee”.

  9. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    MTV should have been taken off the air 20 years ago.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      No way, it was still good until at least 1998.

      • dolemite says:

        I think MTV died when the original “Yo, MTV Raps” died.

        • Anne Noise says:

          Jesse Camp was the death knell of MTV. That was when it became obvious to me that they were about the metaspectacle of MTV itself and not any kind of semblance to a “music” network.

          • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

            On the few occasions I’ve accidentally landed on the MTV channel, I’ve yet to see a music video. Back in the day, when the channel launched, it was wall to wall videos. Over the years, that slowly eroded to the channel we endure today.

        • Jawaka says:

          Meanwhile I felt that MTV died when Yo, MTV Raps debuted.

          They should have just made a spin off all rap version of MTV and left the original alone.

  10. blogger X says:

    As much disdain as I have for Xfinity, at least they don’t go through this on a yearly basis like DirecTV and Dish.

  11. TheUncleBob says:

    Dear television providers:

    If you can’t go full “a la carte” because the content providers won’t let you, how about this?

    Let me sign in online to my account. Let me select which individual packages from which content providers I want (The “ESPN” pack? No thanks. AMC pack? Yes, please) – then price my cable bill accordingly. Basically, sell me the programming as it is sold to you.

  12. BigDragon says:

    Viacom channels have no value to me. I don’t watch any of them. They’re commercial-loaded cesspools. I don’t like having to pay for these channels in my current package. I’d really like to be able to select whether or not to subscribe to channel packages like this one. I would obviously choose not to subscribe. The industry business model needs to change.

    • Anne Noise says:

      Comedy Central has funded some great programming, and I’d be sad to see it go, but yes, Viacom is trash and MTV is the poster child for their attitude about television now – listless, vivid, repugnant, catchy, forgettable entertainment.

    • njack says:

      True, but now you’ll get to pay for them AND not receive them.

  13. Torchwood says:

    If it causes a smaller audience for that Snookie show from the shores of Jersey, then I say to DirecTV…. PULL THE CHANNELS!

  14. tbax929 says:

    As long as the contract is in place before Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert return, I’m good.

  15. Sarek says:

    Years ago, I was served by Newchannels Cable. They occasionally ran polls about which channels to add/delete and even phone-in “ask the cable guys” shows. I’m sure they still did what they wanted to, but at least they made a pretense of caring how we felt.

  16. commissarYarr says:

    It annoyed the hell out of my kid, who likes to watch sponge bob in the morning as she gets ready for school. A huge black notice over the show blames direct TV, and a lower 3rd scrolling along the bottom of the screen from direct TV blaming Viacom. Then they have a commercial with all their popular shows characters “speaking out” against them getting canceled.

    Yea bring kids into it guys, that will make me want to keep you when I move.

  17. Nicolaus99 says:

    How I long for Canada’s a la carte channel system…

  18. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Viacom is just plain greedy. Hey, idiots, this is why people are cutting the cord. I thought I’d miss Nick (and I do miss some of the shows) but not enough to turn the DTV back on. Well, that and I still don’t have a job.

  19. Demoliiton Man says:

    I wonder what kind of compensation DirecTV is going to offer to those who complain. I might complain if they offer say a Roku like Dish is over the AMC situation.

  20. Jawaka says:

    My cable company could have stopped carrying those networks 10 years ago and I wouldn’t have known.

    Unrelated, I was watching the Walking Dead marathon over the weekend and during every commercial break AMC made sure to point out that their shows were NOT available on Dish Network. Get over it AMC. They reminded me of a spoiled little girl who’s having a tantrum because they didn’t get their way.

    • commissarYarr says:

      Thats exactly what they all are. Spoiled little brats who need to have everyone know that someone is treating them bad. I saw a commercial on my local news station about it. Really?

    • njack says:

      You should have watched any show on AMC as a Dish customer prior to the cutoff date. It was annoying from both sides.

      • JEDIDIAH says:

        Want Walking Dead? Just buy it from Amazon streaming.

        Problem solved.

        Add it to the list of things NOT stopping you from dumping cable.

  21. ladyilea says:

    The “value of Viacom programming”, yes this is a catch phrase worth all the money they are demanding in their tactics! Interesting that Viacom seems to want to hide the fact that they cannot decide what type of programming to present. They have kept various channels on, that continue to drop in viewship and lose advertising revenues and are blackmailing customers to make up their billion dollar deficit. As one example of Viacom’s lack of programming foresight, consider the channel TVland. They have recently put new programming in effect like “Hot in Cleveland” and “The Ex’s”. Both puke worthy programs to many viewers. In fact, Hot is filled with over the hill actresses whose sex life they think is worth public viewing, while “The Ex’s” gives us various young single people all living in close quarters with nothing but sex to discuss. I guess it’s true what they say, those that need to talk about it, aren’t getting any. To Viacom, get rid of the crap on your channels, lose MTV and your other losers that so many have stopped watching and stop attempting to plug the dyke by holding up Directv viewers for blackmail money. One final thought, as a retired corporate money person, take a 10% cut of wages, perks, benefits and expenses from the top 10% paid employees at Viacom and you will have a windfall of money available. This includes cutting the wages of the CEO. I know that they are as protected as our elected officials once they start getting the money, but obviously, this person is out of touch with reality and I for one am sick and tired of the greedy bloodsuckers such as this CEO attempting to coerce the public into bailing out their mismanagement. Yes, any budget shortfall is considered a managment error. So, stop hiding your errors and do what is necesary and remember it’s the public that keeps you around.

  22. ladyilea says:

    PS: Directv is not innocent in any of this either. They have started a site called Directvpromise, for their customers to make public their comments. Only one major problem as they only want to post comments that criticize Viacom. The section is called “What Our Customers Are Saying”. The big problem is that when customers criticize Directv in all of this, those comments never get posted in a timely fashion. I posted 3 comments that criticized both corporations and none of them have made it on the site in the past few hours. They are still awaiting “review.” Directv seems to be micromanaging via an advertising plan both the comments and criticism of the viewing public. So, this is not a real forum for all to have an open discussion. BOTH corporations are greedy and at fault here and why is it that every year, we have the same drama with Directv. I guess they run this all down to the wire deadline so that they have a reason for increasing our bills! Quite a good advertising plan! I guess this is what happens when you put an accountant together with a creative lawyer and an advertising executive. You get this garbage and the public pays and pays. No one stops to consider the customers! I may move to Canada yet.

  23. Klay says:

    Yawn. Get an Over-The-Air antenna and an internet connection.

  24. dush says:

    I’m sure DirecTV will lower their rates according to the amount of content they won’t be able to provide their customers anymore…AHAHAHAHAH!!

  25. energynotsaved says:

    Great. I just signed a two year contract. This happened when I was with Dish, too.

    Now, do I pay the exit fee, or just suck it up for 22 months?

  26. MarkFL says:

    OK, what’s wrong with this sentence?

    “DirecTV claims that Viacom is demanding a 30% increase in the fees it charges DirecTV for carrying its networks. The satellite company says this increase amounts to “more than a billion dollars extra.”

    Am I to understand that DirecTV is currently paying about $3.3 BILLION for Viacom programming? This seems unlikely, not just because it’s completely out of whack with reason, but also because Viacom’s total income for 2011 (from all sources, which also includes Paramount Pictures) was just over $3.6 billion.

    I declare shenanigans!

    Also, I’m still not clear on why this didn’t make any news until today.

    • MarkFL says:

      And yes, I realize that was TWO sentences, not one.

    • llsee says:

      It didn’t make the news until today because it’s Viacom. If it were channels anyone watched, it would be big news. I say good riddance.

    • JJFIII says:

      Maybe you would understand if they say they want 30% more, but it was not 30% for one year. Read the details before you call shenanigans and think that you are so much smarter than the rest of the world.

      • MarkFL says:

        If 30% represents an increase of $1 billion, then the original amount is $3.33 billion. Granted, it doesn’t say per year, but this is normally how things are stated. If the total is for another period, it should say what that is. Do they mean over the next five years? Ten years? A hundred? Hell, why stop there…they could just say $100 trillion dollars. If the time period isn’t specified and it’s not a time period one might reasonably expect, then it’s misleading.

        Here is a direct quote from DirecTV:

        “DIRECTV currently carries 17 Viacom networks at the cost of hundred of millions of dollars a year. But Viacom now insists that you pay over 30 percent more (more than a billion dollars extra) for the exact same programming.”

        Note that the first sentence specifically quotes “millions of dollars PER YEAR.” (emphasis mine, of course) Granted, the “millions of dollars” doesn’t jibe with the billion as a percentage, but that comparison was not in the quote in the story.

        I made no reference or implication to anyone’s intelligence. Rather, I implied that DirecTV was giving an inflated figure, which pretty much fits in with what I said in the last paragraph about misleading — something which DirecTV is pretty good at.

        Say hi to Mimi for me.

        • JJFIII says:

          Basic math must be really hard for you to understand. I will put it to you simply

          Let’s say the previous deal was for 7 years $3.33 BILLION . DirectV paid on average a little over $476 Million per year. Viacom wants to add a BILLION to that contract and make it 4.3 BILLION for 7 years. That would average out to a little over $619 Million per year. THAT is a 30% increase year over year. You came on here spouting BULLSHIT that you think there is no way for the numbers to be true, when in reality, YOU failed to look into it. The length of contract does not matter. If it will cost consumers a BILLION dollars it is still a BILLION dollars over the life of it.
          If you think 30% more is acceptable, then wait until Viacom has their next negotiation with Dish or Comcrap. The fact is, if I were DTV, I would tell them to go fuck themselves. Viacom needs carriage more than DTV needs their shows. Viacom loses all the money associate with carriage AND the advertising they will be forced to give away will be astronomical, since Jersey Shore will not have the same ratings they used to.
          If you want more on fucked up the Viacom position is read this

          That’s right 56% MORE profits and they want to get more.
          And finally, for the record, you state “Viacom’s total income for 2011 (from all sources, which also includes Paramount Pictures) was just over $3.6 billion.” I guess you are either no informed about the difference between revenue and income. Net INCOME was $3.71 BILLION, but REVENUE ( which is where the DirectV money would actually go in accounting for it) was $14.914 BILLION.

          Get your facts straight before you comment, or continue your stellar work for Fox News.

          • MarkFL says:

            My, but you are full of hostility, aren’t you?

            As I mentioned, if they didn’t give a timeframe, the claim is vague and misleading.

            You also make it sound as if I am defending Viacom, which I in no way did. I find the whole thing very much like watching a labor dispute between athletes and team owners, neither of whom I have any sympathy for as they continue to screw over the fans, or in the case of Viacom/DTV, the viewers.

            And before you get up anyone’s ass about getting their facts straight, you may want to refrain from making personal commens about people without knowing anything about them. I assure you I am very much a liberal, and if I sat through one hour of Fox News I wouldn’t be able to watch any Viacom channels because the window wouldn’t survive the trip out my window. I know conservatives love to dismiss anything they disagree simply by labeling it liberal (yeah, I once was accused of picking a football game because of my political viewpoint). You, sir (or ma’am, can’t tell from your ID) are no better.

            You could have just made your points, but no, you have to cop an attitude.

            Now go back under your bridge. I shall feed you no more.

  27. dingbat says:

    I spoke with a chat person for TWC and they said once a promotion ends, expect your service to go up between $10. to $15. BUT before you assume, check to see if they have additional promos available that might apply to you and what you watch. For now presume it will be $10-15. more.
    Direct customer have temporarily lost some of their channels this evening, while Vitcom and Direct deck it out on pricing. As it was explained, they want to take away channels you watch, but charge you the same price as when you had them. If they should return, there is no mention if you will have to pay extra for them, even if you don’t want them, plus what you are paying now..

  28. Jemaine says:

    Just bring back Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and Spike.