Consumers, DISH are clear-cut winners in new Viacom deal

Executive editors Natan Edelsburg (@twatan) and Adam Flomenbaum (@flobombin), and guest contributors, bring the inside track on the latest developments in the TV space.

Well, that was fast.

Just days after Viacom and DISH renewal talks broke down, sending Viacom shares lower, the companies today announced that they have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract. Viacom shares were up nearly 14 per cent today following the announcement.

While both companies certainly benefit, it looks like DISH is the real winner here. Consumers too. More, the deal shows how the reality of cord cutting will impact both networks and service providers moving forward.

DISH, understanding this new reality, launched Sling TV last year, a $20-per-month option for cord cutters with live programming from Disney, Turner, and Scripps, among others. Noticeably absent was Viacom, but this wasn’t surprising – outside of a (likely favorable) deal with Sony’s Playstation Vue, the company has been hesitant to partner with cord cutting services.

As part of the new deal with DISH, Comedy Central, BET, Spike, MTV, Nick Jr, and other Viacom channels and VOD content, will be coming to Sling TV’s single-stream and multi-stream services in the coming months.

“Today’s agreement ensures Viacom’s number one family of networks will continue to be available to our millions of fans on DISH and underscores the value of our programming across platforms,” said Viacom Executive Chairman, President, and CEO Philippe Dauman. “DISH has historically been and remains an important partner for Viacom, and as part of our commitment to entertain audiences wherever they are, we are pleased to offer select Viacom networks as part of DISH’s Sling TV product. Today’s renewal, together with several additional affiliate agreements announced over the past year, will enable Viacom to drive growth and deliver better, more engaging viewer experiences for years to come.”

Just a few years ago, Viacom would have rebuffed DISH had they mentioned the importance of a product like Sling TV as part of negotiations. But the tide has turned, and this agreement will have ripple effects in the industry. Skinny bundles, cord cutting options, and TV Everywhere products are being developed by all MVPDs – from Verizon to Comcast to Time Warner – and they will not only be more aggressive in securing content rights from networks for these products, but also will have the upper hand in future negotiations.

On the cord-cutting front, Sling TV now becomes the best option for TV lovers looking to ditch expensive cable packages. With Viacom's lineup, and the recently-announced addition of Fox networks (including local in select markets) to its multi-stream service (confusingly still, a different product from the single-stream service with different content - but they'll figure this out), Sling TV rivals a basic cable package and is cheaper. Cord cutters: rejoice!

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