The continuing litigation between Viacom and DirecTV reached new levels this week, as Viacom pulled all of its stations from DirecTV’s more than twenty million subscribers. For those unfortunate satellite viewers, access to some of the most popular networks in the country, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and MTV has been denied, with no end to the blackout in sight. Viacom has also removed many of their most watched shows from DirecTV’s free online streaming service, drawing a line against internet-powered content providers.
With the two media giants battling over internet rights and increased pricing, owners of Apple’s forthcoming HDTV service may find themselves losing out..
Apple’s goal was to supplement their popular Apple TV service with an expanded offering, one that allows viewers to pick and choose the channels they want included in their plans. This strategy is an affront to the cable providers who really make their money through bundled plans, and refuse to come down from their previous strategies. This is the case with Viacom and DirecTV, and may keep Apple’s a la carte dreams from ever becoming a reality.
Apple has long contended that their internet service would save consumers money over traditional cable television. But it is clear that Viacom and those other programming behemoths will price individual channels so high that private customers would end up spending far more for Apple’s HDTV service than they would for cable. The only hope is if Apple can strike direct deals with the content creators, thereby giving customers a direct line into picking and choosing their favorite shows. But as Netflix, Hulu and other internet content providers have found, traditional entertainment companies are unwilling to play ball.