It was only a matter of time before yours truly was going to chime in on the great feud that is presently taking place between DirecTV and Viacom. There are a number of people on social media (Twitter more so) who are going through the five stages of the grieving process. While it is comic relief to watch tantrums being thrown, it is depressing watching a lot of people placing misguided anger being lobbied in the wrong direction.
This leads me to who I place the blame on. Viacom, one hundred percent and I will explain my position. Viacom has 26 channels on DirecTV (or at least had) each of those channels show commercials. Viacom also has merchandising licenses in place to capitalize on the popularity of Spongebob, iCarly, Victorious, and the alike and yet that doesn’t satisfy Viacom’s insatiable fiscal appetite. Now they want to stick the consumers with a 30% increase in carriage fees.
Now make no mistake we are talking about a few dollars a month per customer and I doubt this is really a money issue anyway. This has more to do with customer freedom, DirecTV is currently going up to bat for the consumer and most are completely oblivious of that fact. DirecTV wants to remove the bundling (an old and archaic business model, used by major content providers to get viewers to watch their assortment of channels) from the equation.
Bundling forces consumers to pay for every single channel in said bundle which increases the overhead on the monthly bill. By removing the bundling, the consumer will be able to buy and pay for just the channels they are interested in having, which scares the hell out of the content providers. Take Viacom for instance, they have a few channels that would be considered “niche” channels. BET, Logo and Centric are three of those types of channels. These channels target a specific target, and are not designed for a mass audience.
Viacom needs bundling so that those stations get viewers because the fear is that if bundling were to be removed from a fiscal standpoint, there wouldn’t be enough individual demand to help cover costs let alone to generate a profit. This isn’t to say there wouldn’t be a demand for those channels, I am sure a lot of people watch those channels (or at the very least used to) but the jury is out on rather or not people would pay individually for those channels or other channels that offer “niche” programming.
The fact is DirecTV much like all other cable and satellite providers have to compete with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. These services with their low monthly rate packages make it very difficult for the established to compete. It’s hard to compete with a service that for seven dollars a month enables subscribers to watch a plethora of programming. Ala Carte is the only sensible solution these cable and satellite providers have to stay in competition and unfortunately Viacom is not wanting to cooperate.
While I am on the topic let me make another fact clear to those that have asserted that DirecTV pulled Viacom off their programming list. This is not nor was that ever the case, Viacom choose to pull the feeds themselves, and DirecTV complied with Viacom’s request to do so. DirecTV had hopped that Viacom would allow the programming to air during the negotiation process, this was evident when the channels went dark and the channels were still listed in the program guide (that was until last night, and now they are known as “Mix”).
If you have frustrations and anger it needs to be pointed to the company that is responsible and that was of course Viacom. Yes, I am sure Viacom is due an increase in fees (if DirecTV wishes to continue to air their programming), it has been seven years since the last contractual agreement was reached. However, Viacom is going to have to concede that this isn’t 2005 anymore and the market place has gotten a lot more competitive in 2012.
Pulling petty antics such as “pop up” commentary on a DirecTV explanation of the way they view things and pulling their free episodes off their website to try and strong arm consumers isn’t going to win you any congeniality contests. In a perfect world, both sides could come up with an contingency plan to allow these channels to air until both sides come to one of two ultimate conclusions either a) both sides can agree to terms that amicable to both companies or b) both sides can agree that a deal can’t be reached.
However, this isn’t a perfect world, and in the world we are in, I suppose it’s perfectly acceptable to use subscribers and viewers as pawns. At least that is what is being taken away from this feud.