DirecTV Competitors Take Aim Over Viacom Networks' Blackout

Now nearly a week old, multichannel network sellers are looking to make gains at the expense of the ongoing DirecTV-Viacom stalemate over carriage fees, according to one media analyst.

Richard Greenfield, media analyst of BTIG Research, notes that the likes of Comcast, Dish Network, and Cablevision Systems Corp. are angling marketing campaigns to consumers who are missing their MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike, and Comedy Central networks, among others.

Comcast is running radio commercials, while Dish Network has added key Viacom images on its Web site page to lure consumers to its service -- including that of SpongeBob and Dora The Explorer. Cablevision Systems has bought keywords from Google in an effort to bring in prospective consumers. A Cablevision tagline on: "Direct Dropped MTV, Nick, CC & BET." Get Them Back With Optimum." (Optimum is Cablevision's digital video service).

The TV network blackout is a long one as compared to other TV network/TV network retailer disagreements.

Greenfield speculates that it isn't current subscribers that are the problem -- but future consumers. He writes: "DirecTV’s far bigger problem will be new gross connects as we believe it will be very challenging to sign-up new subs with so many channels missing."

DirecTV's latest Web site missive puts the blame on Viacom when it comes to some of these marketing efforts: "Switching isn’t the answer.  Every TV provider has disputes with networks.  By getting you to switch, Viacom hopes they will get the 30% increase they have demanded."

It goes on to say: "Viacom’s current statement on our negotiations is completely inaccurate. They made a proposal last night for our carriage of the 17 channels they pulled from DirecTV and we accepted all material terms for those channels including an increase that was more than fair. We are ready to close this deal at anytime and restore those channels to our customers."

For its part, Viacom most recently has said: "Rather than fulfill its promise to subscribers for a quick resolution of this negotiation, it now appears that DirecTV will continue to purposefully and indefinitely deprive its subscribers of MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, TV Land, VH1, Spike, CMT and 18 other Viacom channels."



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