If you’re a DirecTV or UVerse owner, you may no longer be able to watch your favorite shows, as Viacom could be pulling its channels.
Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and more may go dark on your screens if Viacom doesn’t come to an agreement with AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse, as the service providers’ carriage deal expired last night. This comes after AT&T decided to drop Viacom networks from the basic tier of its new DirecTV Now packages, Deadline reports.
Viacom said in a statement it has “made a series of offers that are good for consumers and good for AT&T,” which would allow subscribers to keep Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central, and Paramount while lowering cable bills.
Viacom blames the dispute on the constructs of the newly constituted AT&T. It owns the No. 1 traditional satellite operator, DirecTV; cable operator U-verse, which has nearly 4 million subscribers; and WarnerMedia’s extensive TV and film content, according to Deadline. This goes back to the 16-month legal battle between AT&T and the government, which sued the telecom company in an attempt to block its $81 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
AT&T competitors argued that the now mega communications company would use distribution and programming assets as a weapon to attack rivals and in turn harm customers.
“Unfortunately, AT&T is abusing its new market position by favoring its own content – which significantly underperforms Viacom’s – to stifle competition. AT&T-DirecTV’s behavior is also consistent with a recent pattern of gouging their customers by charging them higher prices for an inferior product with fewer channels. Especially troubling, AT&T-DirecTV is marginalizing diverse audiences in its new DTV packages and threatening to do the same with their existing products,” Viacom said.
In response, AT&T highlighted that Viacom’s channels have lost about 40 percent of its audience in the last six years. “We’re disappointed to see Viacom put our customers in the middle of their negotiations. We are on the side of customer choice and value and want to keep Viacom’s channels in our customers’ lineups. We hope to avoid any interruption to the channels some of our customers care about,” AT&T said in a statement.
If screens do go dark on Friday, customers will miss major program and events like the Kids Choice Awards and BET’s one-hour primetime news special “American Injustice” featuring Senators #CoryBooker and #KamalaHarris.