DirecTV said 17 of Viacom's TV networks were pulled from its system at about midnight ET.
The satellite distributor said that its executives reached out to Viacom Monday and Tuesday with a new proposal and a request to keep the channels on while negotiations continued, but that it never heard back. That meant that DirecTV had to comply with a letter from Viacom demanding that the channels be taken down.
"We have been very willing to get a deal done, but Viacom is pushing DirecTV customers to pay more than a 30% increase, which equates to an extra $1 billion, despite the fact that the ratings for many of their main networks have plummeted and much of Viacom's programming can be seen for free online," said Derek Chang, DirecTV executive VP of content, strategy and development. "Viacom sent us a letter last night that outlined our obligations to remove the channels by midnight or face legal action just as they were falsely telling viewers DirecTV was responsible. Let's be clear, Viacom took these channels away from DirecTV viewers."
In a statement, Viacom said that DirecTV dropped the channels at 11:50 p.m. ET without giving Viacom advanced warning. The last time Viacom was contacted by DirecTV was at approximately 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Viacom said.
Viacom said in a statement: "We are deeply disappointed that DirecTV dropped Viacom's channels before our midnight deadline this evening, severing our connection with its nearly 20 million subscribers nationwide. We proposed a fair deal that amounted to an increase of only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber, and we remained willing to negotiate that deal right up to this evening's deadline. However, DirecTV refused to engage in meaningful conversation. We are hopeful that DirecTV will work with us toward a resolution, and stop denying its subscribers access to the networks they watch most."
DirecTV said it was providing alternatives to Viacom's channels for its customers.
"We understand that Viacom's actions are inconveniencing our customers so we are doing everything we can to help them find alternative programming until this gets resolved," Chang said. "Customers will now see a variety of replacement channels available to them on one screen, in a Mix Channel format, when they tune to a Viacom channel. For instance, those going to the Nickelodeon channel slot will see alternative choices for children's programming such as The Disney Channel, ABC Family, Cartoon Network, PBS Sprout, The Hub and Boomerang."
Chang noted that there were other ways to see full-length Viacom episodes for free, including going to www.directvpromise.com and clicking on the "Other Ways to Watch" tab.