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Cable wars: Viacom and DirecTV battle for hearts & minds

Directv subscribers will be in the dark with Viacom owned properties
Directv subscribers will be in the dark with Viacom owned properties
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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When the clock struck midnight last night, Viacom channels dropped from DirecTV. That means no SpongeBob, Snooki or Jon Stewart for DirecTV customers. Contract negotiations between the two companies have become a public battle. Viacom exploiting celebrities and funny clips from MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon to win over customers’ opinions.

DirecTV spreading its own propaganda with Twitter hashtags such as #DirectvHasMyBack. Facebook postings and tweets are ripe with vitriol against both companies this morning. While disputes between programmers and distributors are becoming common – such as the ongoing feud between Dish and AMC – it’s surprising to see so many major channels pulled from a major distributor. Both could suffer which might be why it’s gotten so ugly so quickly.

Why does public opinion matter in all of this? Is it just to avoid irritating customers? Or could it influence the deal? Could a deal come quicker if customers call those 1-800 numbers? How long might this fight and the Dish-AMC fight last?


Andrew Wallenstein, TV Editor, Variety