As of midnight Wednesday, Suddenlink will no longer host Viacom-owned channels after the two companies failed to reach what each side considered to be a “fair” contract.
Viacom Media Networks, which owns channels like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and Comedy Central, claims on its website to have “the largest portfolio of ad-supported cable networks in the United States, in terms of audience share.” However, the television, internet, security and phone provider Suddenlink, claims that due to recent declines in viewers for said Viacom channels, the two companies will no longer be in contract with one-another.
“The truth is, Viacom has rejected all our offers, including one we made [Tuesday],” Gene Regan, senior director of corporate communications for Suddenlink, said. “It’s unfortunate we could not reach agreement, and we understand the frustration this will cause some customers, but we sincerely hope they’ll give the new channels a try and that they find those channels as compelling as others have said they do.”
Channels that Suddenlink customers formerly enjoyed through Viacom included BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike, TV Land and VH1. The channels Suddenlink has attempted to fill this void with include FXX, Hallmark channel, Investigation Discovery, Pivot, Sprout, TheBlaze, UP! And TV One.
“Through phone and email surveys, social media polls and calls to our care centers, our customers have consistently told us they do not value the Viacom channels as much as they value others,” Regan said. “They do not want to pay significantly more to keep the Viacom channels and they would like other channels added. And, by the way, the agreements with the new channels are long-term.”
Though Suddenlink was unable to reach an agreement with Viacom, Regan assured that has not been the case with other channel owners.
“Suddenlink has had considerable success in reaching new agreements with the likes of AMC, Fox, Turner, Disney, Discovery and many other channel owners,” Regan said. “We had been negotiating with Viacom for a few months. It’s important to note, also, that Suddenlink is not the only company affected by negotiations efforts with Viacom. Earlier this year, a Wall Street Journal story indicated that 60 other companies faced a similar situations.”
Junior mass communication major Cassius Clay lives at Gateway, an apartment complex which offers Suddenlink for Internet and television services. Clay said he is not happy with the change in channel lineup.
“Why would you drop channels the majority of your people watch?” Clay said. “I’m definitely going to miss VH1, MTV and Nickelodeon. I think Suddenlink needs to go talk to Viacom and make a new deal. Although I am looking forward to some of the new channels they’re offering like UP! and TV One.”
Brianna Carter, junior business major echoed Clay in her opposition to the discontinuation of channels, stating she does not fully understand the actions of Viacom.
“Why would you drop the popular channels, if anything, because if your numbers are going down, wouldn’t you would want the people that are with you to stay?” Carter said. “I barely watch TV as it is, but when I do, those are the channels I watch VH1, BET…”
In addition to Suddenlink no longer providing service for Viacom channels, allegations have also been made that the company is blocking access to shows on Viacom websites. However, Regan said that’s a misconception which may be out of compliance with the Federal Communications Committee.
“Actually, Viacom is the one blocking those shows and has done the same thing to other companies,” he said. “In doing this, Viacom is violating the principles of an open Internet. If people agree, they may wish to contact the FCC. In the meantime, the shows people like may be available through YouTube, Hulu, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Amazon Prime, iTunes or other Internet sources.”
Carina Medders, junior psychology major said she does not think the future of this change will look good for Suddenlink, especially in a college town like Huntsville. Additionally, she said she does not feel the new channels will serve as adequate replacement for those lost.
“This is a college town, so those TV channels are pretty popular so most likely they’re going to have petitions and riots,” Medders said. “I think they really need to try to come to an agreement because these channels are irrelevant that they’re bringing in.”