Viacom has begun putting message crawls on its channels for Charter Communications subscribers, informing these viewers that a blackout of its networks on the No. 2 U.S. cable operator looms if a carriage renewal deal can’t be worked out by Sunday.
“Viacom has made a series of very attractive offers to Charter that are consistent with terms we’ve recently reached with other large cable operators,” Viacom said in a statement emailed to FierceCable this morning. “Importantly, these offers would enable Charter to lower Spectrum subscribers’ bills, while also giving them more access to shows across Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and other Viacom networks.”
Charter signaled that negotiations with Viacom might be tough in early May, when it moved MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, Spike and VH1 out of its basic programming tier.
Viacom CEO Bob Bakish responded that the cable operator, which controls around 16.5 million pay TV homes in the U.S., was in breach of contract. But no lawsuit has been filed to date.
“Viacom is committed to developing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with our distribution partners,” the media conglomerate added in its statement. “Despite our efforts, Charter continues to insist on unreasonable and extreme terms that are totally inconsistent with the market. While we’re making every effort to reach a new deal, Charter’s actions may force a disruption in their service.”
Perhaps no media networks conglomerate has suffered worse in the SVOD age than Viacom. But under Bakish, stability appears to have set in, and a number of Viacom’s channels have reported upticks recently in viewership.
“What's interesting is that in aggregate, Viacom’s networks have the greatest reach vs. other cable net groups, but the group continues be viewed as ‘droppable by the market. Ultimately, we think a deal will get done, taking carriage risk off the table for now, hopefully putting a floor under the stock,'” wrote Jefferies analyst John Janedis in a note to investors this morning.