Distributors, Networks Still Playing Dangerous 'Blink-First' Carriage Game

TV networks and distributors keep on playing a game of waiting for partners to blink when re-upping carriage deals. It never happens. Deals get done.

But someday soon, some company will just shut their eyes, and take the big leap, letting the TV ecosystem have its transformation moment.

Charlie Ergen, chairman/CEO of Dish Network, keeps heading in this area. Earlier this week he had pondered the idea of “permanently” dropping Viacom networks -- only to strike a last-minute carriage deal with Viacom late on Wednesday.

For Viacom, which had been subject to turmoil from its falling stock price, as well as efforts among key principal players to control the company, this is welcome news.

Now Philippe Dauman, executive chairman/chief executive officer of  Viacom, says that, along with other distribution deals, the company will get “solid mid-single digit” percentage gains for its key affiliate revenue in future years.



As a result, Viacom, which had been seeing stock market declines in recent days, had a strong Thursday, closing up 14% to $42.56.

Retaining Dish Network’s 14 million subscriber base is just the start for Viacom. Finding more content is still the goal for some of Viacom’s 18 networks.

In 2014, some Viacom networks were dropped by smaller operators. With this knowledge, Ergen -- hours before agreeing to a new Viacom agreement -- said: “People that have taken Viacom down in the past have done just fine.”

“Yikes” could have been one response for some interested parties.

Now, some may think those new over-the-top digital TV platforms could be a savior in the wings for Viacom and other TV networks. But considering the lack of penetration of those new services, those big moves are years away.

Still, one day, a pay TV provider (cable, satellite, or telco) or a TV network group will be making a true ground-breaking move. A permanent move.

Then you’ll know some real TV business disruption has arrived.

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