Two media giants, Viacom and DirecTV, used social media sites Tuesday to rally support in a spat over whether DirecTV’s 20 million customers will lose access to Viacom channels.
The two companies are trying to reach a deal that would allow DirecTV to continue distributing 17 Viacom channels — including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, BET, CMT, Spike and Comedy Central.
A blackout of those channels is set for Tuesday at midnight ET if a deal isn’t reached. The dispute burst across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube on Tuesday.
MTV, for example, employed the hashtag #WhenDirecTVDrops, while DirecTV used #DirectvHasMyBack. Both hashtags got lots of love from people — including many celebrities — following the dispute. “Direct TV” was trending on Twitter for much of the day.
Dish Network was embroiled in a similar feud with AMC, resulting in Dish dropping AMC on July 1.
DirecTV says Viacom wants customers “to pay over 30% more to keep the same channels you are already receiving,” which the service provider equates to more than $1 billion.
Viacom, which on Monday said “DirecTV has rejected all of our proposals to renew our agreement,” responded to those numbers, saying they’re misleading:
“DirecTV is throwing around some big numbers that are misleading. Here’s the truth: Viacom is asking DirecTV for an increase of a couple of pennies per day per subscriber. That’s far less than DirecTV pays other programmers with fewer viewers than Viacom. Viacom has always been open to negotiating and hopes to get a deal done.”
Viacom also leveraged Facebook and YouTube to bring attention to the dispute. Its WhenDirecTVDrops page(see below) was created to inform its viewers about the situation. Viacom claims 26 channels, rather than 17, are involved.