Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Viacom shuts off Web access to Colbert, The Daily Show at same time they axe DirecTV content

It's unclear if this connected or not, but the timing seems more than coincidental. Viacom, which is hassling with DirecTV over new terms between the two companies, has suddenly removed Web access to full episodes of two of Comedy Central's most popular shows, "The Colbert Report" and "The Daily Show."

The shutdown of Web access occurred at the same time that Viacom pulled all its channels from DirecTV. Those include BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike and VH1 as well as some smaller ones, for a total of 17. Currently, DirecTV subscribers who tune to a Viacom channel get a "mix" of alternate, but similar, programming from networks such as Bravo, FX and TBS.

The dispute follows a still unresolved one which has resulted in rival satellite provider Dish Network's 14 million subscribers losing AMC, IFC, Sundance and WE TV channels, as of last month.

DirecTV has about 20 million subscribers.

Web browsers visiting the Comedy Central site would see the above message when trying to stream a full episode of those two collaborative political comedy "news" shows: "Full episodes are currently unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience."

DirecTV said Viacom is seeking a 30 percent increase in fees, which would amount to an additional $1 billion in costs for the provider. Derek Chang, DirecTV's executive vice president of content, strategy and development said that "ratings for many of (Viacom's) main networks have plummeted, and much of Viacom's programming can be seen for free online."

It's unclear that DirecTV's move to restrict "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" was a result of Chang's statement.

Meanwhile, Viacom countered by saying that DirecTV has been paying "the same bargain rate" for Viacom programming for the past seven years. Viacom said that it is the top programmer on DirecTV, with and Nickelodeon is the most watched individual channel on the satellite service, with 20 percent of viewers watching a Viacom channel at any given time.

It's a he said / she said type of argument, and both companies are losing in the process. So are viewers, of course.

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