A very loud and dirty skirmish between DirecTV and Viacom that darkened a number of popular cable channels to more than 20 million subscribers has ended.
DirecTV has immediately returned channels such as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and VH1 back to its lineup. In return, Viacom received what some observers say is a sizable increase in how much DirecTV pays for each channel, up around 24 percent from what DirecTV was paying in the past.
The battle was filled with accusations, blackouts, Web takedowns and more. The fight even made it to Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," where Jon Stewart decried a Viacom decision to remove content from the Web as an effort to block its access from DirecTV users. Although it's not clear if it was in direct response to Stewart's show, the content did reappear on the Web the next day.
In all, DirecTV viewers lost Viacom programming for about a week. But the new deal could mean monthly bill increases in the future, all during a time when many people are abandoning cable because of its high prices.
The problems started when the previous seven-year agreement between Viacom and DirecTV ended, and the two sides couldn't come to terms on a new carriage deal. It's not clear for how long the new agreement will last.
But such battles have become a constant ordeal that puts viewers in the middle, with both sides claiming the other is being unfair. Where these contract disputes once made front-page news, many are now being relegated to the bottom end of the news cycle, with some even believing these disputes are nothing more than publicity stunts to hype of cable channels in an ever-expanding market.
DirecTV, with nearly 20 million subscribers, reported revenue of $27.2 billion last year, with a profit of $2.7 billion. Shares for the company have been trading on the high end on the Nasdaq market, just short of its year-long high of just under $53.
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