Well, here we are again. It was only a couple of summers ago that I was writing about the standoff between cable company Suddenlink, and media giant Viacom. Well, the boys who brought you the annoying,walking and talking sponge are at it again. As I understand it, Viacom is demanding a thirty percent rate increase from Direct TV, for the privilege of providing its list of cable channels like MTV, Nick and Nick Jr., TV Land and quite a few others; this despite sinking ratings.
The Satellite provider has refused the higher rates and has stopped broadcasting the extra networks until such a time as a deal can be struck, but its not going well. Neither side is willing to budge. Now I am not necessarily an opponent of big companies. The person or group who provides goods and services has the perfect right to ask what they want for those goods and services. I’m fine with media, cable and satellite providers making money.
A rising tide lifts all boats. I get it. But I’m increasingly opposed to what I see as Viacom’s shakedowns of every cable and satellite company who carries their channels. The fact is the network giant does the same thing to the carriers as they do to us. They sell their networks in packages, forcing them to pay for unpopular, low rated channels and programming in order to obtain programs that actually sell. Thus, we as customers can’t pick and choose our own lineups.
Now I should say that this is all perfectly legal, however, I read a few different articles in order to better understand the issue, and numerous authors cite the probability that the loss of channels will drive more customers to the likes of Netflix or Hulu where they can not only pick their networks but their individual programs. I’m certainly no expert on how these markets operate, but it seems to me that Viacom is working hard to get as much milk as possible from a dying cash cow, before she finally expires. The company would do better (in my humble opinion) to find a way to give as much choice to the consumer as possible before they go somewhere else entirely.