Viacom, Dish Reach Multi-Year Carriage Deal Renewal

Viacom Signage - H 2016
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Viacom Signage - H 2016

Viacom's previous deal with Dish expired more than two months ago but the two agreed to an extension that ended at midnight.

Hours after a midnight deadline, Viacom and Dish Network struck a new deal that will keep the conglomerate's channels, including BET, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and TV Land, available to the satellite TV provider's 13 million subscribers nationwide.

"Dish Network L.L.C. and Viacom Inc. have agreed to terms for a multi-year contract renewal that provides Dish customers with uninterrupted access to Viacom networks and sets the stage for select Viacom live and video-on-demand content to join the Sling TV single- and multi-stream services," the companies said.

Details of the agreement were not disclosed beyond the fact that the deal covers Viacom's 18 networks and provides for MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Spike and other Viacom networks to be available on Dish's Sling TV streaming service.

Viacom's stock was up more than 8 percent shortly after the deal announcement.

"Today's agreement ensures Viacom's number one family of networks will continue to be available to our millions of fans on Dish and underscores the value of our programming across platforms," said Viacom executive chairman, president and CEO Philippe Dauman. "Dish has historically been and remains an important partner for Viacom, and as part of our commitment to entertain audiences wherever they are, we are pleased to offer select Viacom networks as part of Dish's Sling TV product. Today's renewal, together with several additional affiliate agreements announced over the past year, will enable Viacom to drive growth and deliver better, more engaging viewer experiences for years to come."

"We appreciate Viacom's willingness to continue with us on our journey as we work to deliver the best, most innovative television services available," said Dish chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen. "This creative, bold and consumer-friendly approach extends a nearly 20-year-old relationship."

Viacom's previous deal with Dish expired more than two months ago but the two agreed to an extension that ended at midnight.

Dish has been making the point that, since Viacom's programming is available through some online outlets, it is therefore less valuable, while Viacom says its channels make up almost 20 percent of Dish's total viewership.

"We try to protect our customers from two things: 1) a needless increase and 2) paying for product they're viewing at other places," Ergen had said during a conference call early Wednesday. "In general, content is more widely available, and therefore the value to us and our cost is generally down."

Viacom's stock took a hit an 8 percent hit on Tuesday after a scroll at the bottom of its channels appeared, warning Dish subscribers that they would be losing access if a new deal couldn't be struck.

Wall Street analysts have been saying that Viacom could ill afford losing Dish after having already lost Suddenlink and Cable One.

Todd Juenger of Bernstein Research said in August that if Viacom didn't strike a deal with Dish its stock could go to $28, but if a deal happened it could go to $51. On Wednesday, Viacom shares closed at $37.38.

During his conference call Wednesday — which was scheduled to discuss earnings, though talk of Viacom dominated — Ergen was confident a deal could get done, though he hinted at contentious negotiations.

"They're the ones who sent us the termination notice," Ergen said of Viacom. "Last week, I didn't see a path with Viacom. The tone on both sides, both Viacom and Dish, has been more productive this weekend and this week."