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DirecTV Plays Chicken with Viacom and Loses
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Are you an insomniac? Got things on your mind? Have DirecTV? If you answered yes to all of the above, please put down your PC or Mac and do not hurl it out of your office window. You see, if these subscribers turned on their TV sets last night to watch Impact Wrestling, SpongeBob, or Jersey Shore, they got bupkus. 

Why? There was a standoff at the ratings corral and DirecTV was made into Swiss cheese as the satellite provider kept their word and dumped all 17 Viacom channels. The question is: If in the face of saving customers' rates, do cable and satellite companies just lose customers? This is a huge PR problem that DirecTV faces right now. And Viacom just sits back in their plush leather chairs, giving DirecTV the finger — albeit all blinged out. 

Enter the obligatory released statement to appease irate customers:

DIRECTV customers were left without Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and 14 other channels today, after Viacom dropped its channels from DIRECTV at approximately midnight EDT. DIRECTV executives reached out to Viacom both yesterday and today with a new proposal and a request to keep the channels on while we continued to negotiate, but never heard back, so DIRECTV had to comply with their demand to take the channels down or face legal action. 

DirecTV subscribers that miss their daily update on Snooki's tan fetus are now searching for the local number for AT&T UVerse or Dish Network. But wait! Dish just lost AMC and 'Mad Men,' so probably not them. What's sad is DirecTV had to know the angst would go viral — and it has — and they would risk losing customers. However, their plight was admirable because the gun to their head was Viacom asking for a 30 percent increase. That's $1 billion dollars, kids. 

Naturally, the 'Video and Audio Communication' hordes couldn't be out-statemented (Yeah, it's a word...not), so there's this: 

DirecTV is throwing around some big numbers that are misleading. Here's the truth: Viacom is asking DirecTV for an increase of a couple of pennies per day per subscriber. That's far less than DirecTV pays other programmers with a fewer viewers than Viacom. Viacom has always been open to negotiating and hopes to get a deal done. 

Now, other than both companies being in dire need of someone who can write a cohesively diagrammed sentence, these statements NEVER get read. No one cares. It's like the NFL strike — millionaires griping to billionaires. No one wins; yet, the customers draw a bad case of selective amnesia once the product is back on TV. Viacom knows this. DirecTV knows this. So why play chicken? Because someone always blinks. They both know that. 

Who loses? You. At least, 20 million of you.


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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