ANTE UP! Viacom Yanks Free Online Programming; Dispute Continues With DirecTV

Source: Lynette Rice / EW / CNN

As the dispute between Viacom and DirecTV continued Wednesday, the conglomerate yanked access to some of its more popular programming that was available free on company websites. Fans can no longer watch full episodes of shows like “SpongeBob Squarepants” and “iCarly” or “Jersey Shore” and “The Daily Show,” which is sure to further anger the 20 million DirecTV subscribers who continue to find a dark screen when they change the channel to Viacom-owned nets like Nick, MTV, Comedy Central and VH1.

“Viacom is now not only holding DirecTV customers hostage, but all online viewers as well,” according to a statement from DirecTV. “Is this just another underhanded negotiating tactic, or does this mean that Viacom will no longer offer its content free online?”

The latter is certainly possible. Ratings for Viacom’s once shining star, Nickelodeon, have dropped double-digits in the last year while some of its popular shows were available online for free — one likely reason why DirecTV is refusing to pay the 30% more Viacom wants for all of its channels.

The carriage agreement between the two expired last weekend; by midnight on Tuesday, all 17 Viacom channels went black on the satellite provider. “That’s over $1 billion on top of what you were already paying for not only MTV and Nickelodeon, but also all of their other channels that you might never watch. You should be able to decide which Viacom channels you want and which you don’t,” according to a statement on DirecTV’s website.

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