July 13, 2012
DirectTV-Viacom Dispute Takes To Web Over Blackouts
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Frustrated customers took to social media sites on Wednesday to vent their anger about missing out on some of their favorite television shows amid a dispute between satellite provider DirecTV and Viacom.The battle has left 20 million customers without access to channels such as MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central and others, as the Viacom and DirecTV clash over how much a distributor should pay an entertainment company for content.
Viacom pulled its shows off DirecTV on Wednesday as a result of the conflict, leading DirecTV to direct frustrated subscribers to temporarily watch the shows on the Web. However, Viacom thwarted the approach by darkening its Web sites and pulling its popular shows from the Internet.
The move threatens to anger not only DirecTV's subscribers, but other fans who have no stake in the dispute.
"When my son can't watch 'The Backyardigans' tomorrow he might call DirecTV himself," wrote Atlanta Falcons All-Pro cornerback Brent Grimes in a Twitter post, referring to the Nickelodeon series.
“Jersey Shores”, “The Daily Show,” and others are among the popular shows unavailable to DirecTV customers or online, while other shows, such as "South Park," remain online.
It´s not just angry customers who have taken to the Internet to voice their frustrations -- DirecTV and Viacom have fired up their own online battle.
Viacom retweeted several posts blaming DirecTV for the blackout, accusing the broadband provider of refusing to negotiate.
Meanwhile, DirecTV pled its case on its Website, saying Viacom wants to hike the price of its channels, which would result in more expensive service for subscribers. The company shared a link to its own version of events, and said it hopes "to reach an agreement soon & keep your bill low."
Both companies also were sharing their side of the story with fans on Facebook, where customers posted hundreds of comments, some of them laced with frustration and anger.
"This is ridiculous, I've only had DirecTV for 6 months and this is the SECOND time that we've lost channels that we watch on a regular basis," wrote one fan on DirecTV's Facebook page.
"Get your stuff together and get it settled BEFORE it affects us as customers. It's very unprofessional. I will be canceling once my contract is up,” the subscriber said.
Viacom used its own Facebook page to sling some arrows at DirecTV Wednesday afternoon, posting an image of Nickelodeon cartoon favorite SpongeBob SquarePants with the caption:
"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? I don't know. I have DirecTV."
The move fell flat with at least some Facebook members.
"WOW, Viacom! You win the crown for King of corporate [expletive]s!" one Facebook member wrote.
"My kids are upset because they can't watch Spongebob anymore after you rubbed it in their faces with that lousy commercial you came up with to HURT their feelings and make DirectTV look like a bunch of [expletive]s and now here you are making a joke about it. YOU SUCK!!!!!"
Hulk Hogan of the "TNA Wrestling Impact” show, which airs on Spike, made a YouTube video that didn´t mince words.
"I've had a world of piledriving punishment dished out to me, brother, but I've never been hurt like I am right now since I heard that DirecTV dropped Spike," he says in the video, which had 13,000 views as of Thursday.
Viacom became a trending topic on Twitter by Wednesday night, with high profile show creators like Sons of Anarchy's Kurt Sutter even weighing in with expletive-laden comments.
Other celebrity complaints were more forthright and pragmatic in tone.
"Dear Direct TV ... I want my expensive service to include all the channels I once had. Thanks," wrote reality-TV star and NBA wife Khloe Kardashian.
DirecTV subscribers and others without access to their favorite shows have a few alternatives at their disposal as they wait for a resolution to the ongoing dispute. Web services like Hulu Plus offer the current seasons of many TV offerings, including Comedy Central's "South Park,” “The Daily Show" and The CW's "Supernatural", with episodes appearing shortly after they are originally aired. The top offerings are listed under Hulu's "Currently On Air" feature.
Hulu is currently offering a free one-week trial, meaning some subscribers could potentially ride out the dispute at no charge.
Rumors swirled on Thursday that Viacom and DirecTV had resumed discussions in an attempt to settle the dispute, but for now subscribers are still scrambling.
Although a deal between the two companies will likely be done at some point, it is only a matter of time before the same scenario plays out with other broadband providers and media companies.