EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — DirectTV subscribers who want their MTV, SpongeBob SquarePants or comedian Jon Stewart are getting their wish.
Viacom Inc. and the satellite TV service provider said Friday that they have settled a dispute that had cut off access to 17 Viacom channels for DirectTV subscribers.
According to terms shared by both sides on Friday, DirecTV Group Inc. will pay about 20 percent more to carry Viacom Inc. channels on satellite TV lineups. That works out to about $600 million in the first year of a seven-year deal. The companies agreed to annual single-digit percentage increases in subsequent years.
DirecTV was able to save itself about $500 million over the entire term by not taking the premium pay TV channel Epix. It said it also was able to send a message that it won’t roll over every time a media company threatens to pull channels over fees.Channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon had been inaccessible to some 20 million DirecTV customers since July 10 as the two companies haggled over how much DirecTV should pay to carry those channels.
That was apparently in response to DirecTV telling its U.S. subscribers where they could find programs on the Internet that they could no longer watch on TV. With viewers frustrated by the lack of accessibility, Viacom decided on Tuesday to let new episodes of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” be shown on its websites, easing the blockade of online viewings that it imposed last week. As part of the new long-term deal, DirecTV Group Inc. subscribers also will be able to see Viacom shows on tablets, laptops and other devices using DirecTV’s Everywhere platform.
DirecTV made it clear that it was not happy with what had transpired. “The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won’t get them a better deal,” Derek Chang, executive vice president of content strategy and development for DirecTV, said.