DirecTV and Viacom have taken their contract dispute to the death cage.
DirecTV’s 20 million satellite TV subscribers have lost 17 channels produced by Viacom in a dispute about the fees paid to broadcast the media company’s programs. Late Tuesday night, the satellite service removed BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike and VH1 because contract talks with Viacom had reached an impasse.
(edited to add): And The Better Half pointed me at Viacom’s attempt to bid 11-no-trump, cutting off free episodes of the Colbert Show and The Daily Show. Which was surely the dumbest possible escalation in this affair (/edited).
First serious but side question: Viacom has 17 channels? Seriously? Is this like “Use Your Illusion I and II” where there’s less than one album’s worth of good songs on two albums… and you have 17 channels of crap with 6 or 7 good shows spread around to create an illusion of substance?
Does anybody watch… wait, sorry, I have to check again… seventeen channels? That can’t possibly be right. Seventeen? Comedy Central is big, but Spike is “non-HD movies you probably already own on VHS if you’re the sort of guy who would watch ’em on Spike anyway” and nobody watches VH1 unless they’re
- mind-numbingly bored
- totally exhausted from yardwork or completely hungover
- it’s Sunday and there’s no golf on
- and there’s some 80’s video retrospective thing on VH1
So, really, Viacom has the Jon Stewart show and Colbert, and a pile of stuff that nobody wants to pay for but they’ll take for free if it’s there. And Nick. But if you’re a DirecTV user, and you have kids that watch Nick, you already have enough content DVR’d from Nick to get you through to the next stage of development where they don’t watch that show any more.
I think the wrangling between the content creators-who-also-want-to-be-distributors and the content-distributors-who-want-to-ignore-the-Internet are waging the wrong battle, and they’re definitely waging it in the wrong place and at most importantly at the worst possible time.
I’ve been a DirecTV subscriber since 2000. I originally hooked up because I wanted to get NFL Sunday Ticket, and I never dropped it. Not just because I’m lazy, but because Time Warner, DirecTV, and Dish all – perhaps unintentionally – collude to make it nigh-impossible to do a decent comparison in side-by-side service. AT&T Uverse just unrolled in my neighborhood, and undoubtedly they’ll join the party.
The problem is that they’re eating their young. See, the youngsters nowadays get their television shows a la carte on their mobile devices. They’re paying a premium for it, but in the long run shelling out $20 for the entire season of The Walking Dead, which I then can own and watch whenever, is preferable to spending $80/month on a buffet table.
Unless the buffet table is zero effort. If it’s not hard to find what I want at the buffet table, the illusion of extra choices is worth something. Hey, all I really want is a half-dozen shows.. not even the entire channel… and for there to occasionally be something interesting on the other 200 when those 6 are in dead air cycle.
But if you’re going to sign me to a one- or two-year contract, and then dump one of those six channels during that contract… and all your competitors are going to do the same thing… guess what? You’ve failed to differentiate yourself *and* you’ve made your product a stone around my neck, as a consumer. Because I’m stuck paying for your service until the contract runs out, but I don’t want to pay for this service that suddenly changed right in the middle of the contract. You just removed the only selling point over going the route of not having a cable provider whatsoever, you made it a pain in the butt.
Sure, I get that it’s in the contract. Buyer beware, caveat yadda yadda. But when this contract is up, it’s going to be very, very difficult for me to renew. Honestly, it was difficult to renew when we moved, it was only your sales guy giving me $300 worth of credits that got me off the fence in the first place. Why should I bother? I can throw an HD antenna on my roof for the local channels, subscribe to the one or two shows I really want to watch via Google Play or iTunes, never be stuck with my DVR telling me that I can’t copy that file to my phone or computer, and not be angry because I’m going to lose out on the rest of the season of (insert show here).
Jeeze, folks, don’t your realize that the only reason why I’m still using your service is because I’m lazy? I suspect that many of my fellow DirecTV subscribers are just as lazy as I am. So now, to watch The Daily Show, they’re going to start watching it online. And if your contract dispute lasts longer than a couple of weeks, they’re not ever going to come back, because they’re lazy.