Viacom Restores 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert' to Web but Fight With DirecTV Continues

The company insists restoring the shows online is not a reaction to Monday's comments from Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, returning from a two-week hiatus.

Viacom restored full episodes and clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to the Internet Tuesday morning but denies it has anything to do with the dressing down the company got from one of its stars, Jon Stewart, who used his Comedy Central show to inject some reality into the situation.

“Viacom, DirecTV, what are you doing here?” Stewart asked on his first night back after a two-week break. “You’ve got ad campaigns blaming people for taking the shows away. Telling people to rise up and demand it like it’s some kind of basic cable Arab Spring. … I’ve got news for you. It’s not. None of this matters. None of this is indispensable.”

A Viacom spokesman insisted the decision to put the shows back online was simply a promotional and marketing move tied to the return of Stewart and Colbert after their annual hiatus.

In a statement Tuesday, Viacom said: “Despite reports last week that we had pulled all our full-episode content from the web, we still have literally thousands of full episodes available online for free, and we brought The Daily Show and Colbert back online to coincide with their return with new episodes. We hope this is helpful to our fans with DirecTV who have yet to switch to a cable/satellite provider that carries Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and all our 26 networks.”

The Viacom spokesman also said talks with DirecTV are ongoing, though there is no immediate prospect for a settlement that would restore Viacom networks to the nearly 20 million DirecTV subscribers.

The Viacom spokesman admitted it was true that ratings for Nickelodeon in particular already have been hard hit by the blackout -- down by more than 30 percent since it started at midnight July 10. He said Nick shows are among the most popular on DirecTV among children. 

Meanwhile DirecTV told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement that there have been some subscriber losses over  the Viacom blackout but that others have said they agree with the effort to curb costs.

“Of course some customers have left us, but the numbers so far are very low,” said the DirecTV spokesperson. “The interesting thing is that, for the first time ever, we are seeing a huge number of our customers actually voicing support for us in our goal to keep programming costs as low as possible and telling us that they will stick with us until this is settled. Most of them understand that if they switch to another provider, they are likely to experience this situation again very soon -- case in point TWC/Hearst and AMC/Dish, who are currently in disputes with channels off the air.”