AT&T Agrees New DIRECTV Deal With Viacom, But Questions Remain

AT&T and Viacom have now reached a deal to ensure Viacom channels remain on the DIRECTV platform.

The finer details of the agreement have not been made public yet although both sides released a joint statement earlier today confirming the deal had been struck.

This comes after a fairly tumultuous week that saw escalated tensions between the two.

Viacom had explicitly accused AT&T of looking to oust third-party channels and content so that it could create an environment where it can more easily streamline its own content to platform subscribers. As an extension of this point Viacom also actively reached out to its base to put pressure on AT&T to agree a new deal to ensure “more choice” is available to consumers.

AT&T responded by accusing Viacom of using these moves as a negotiating ploy to a better deal.

The previous agreement technically expired on Friday night and before that there was a real concern the Viacom-related channels would go dark for DIRECTV users once the midnight deadline was reached. In the end that never happened with the channels remaining live which proved to be the first firm indication of a deal having been in the works.

Without either company announcing the details of the deal, there’s still a lot of questions that remain unanswered. For example, it remains to be seen how important now the Viacom lineup is to AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW streaming service.

Prior to the AT&T/Viacom deal talks becoming public, AT&T announced a revision to its main DIRECTV NOW plans which saw an increase in price coupled with a decrease in channels.

That reduction in the number of channels included what was effectively an eradication of Viacom channels from the new DIRECTV NOW plans.

At present, there’s no suggestion that has changed and therefore irrespective of this new deal it would seem likely the Viacom channels will remain off the new DIRECTV NOW main packages.

However, this will still be good news for existing DIRECTV NOW subscribers. When the new streaming service plans were announced, AT&T did confirm existing subscribers has the option to just accept a price increase but keep their original channel lineup the same as it was before.

A move which made those existing customers the only ones who could continue to access Viacom channels on the NOW platform. That’s without new customers having to resort to paying massively inflated prices by opting for one of the new DIRECTV-branded streaming only packages.

It also remains to be seen how widespread the Viacom access is as part of the new deal. It was previously believed that AT&T was keen to remove many of the channels it deemed to be unpopular enough, and this was in contrast to Viacom who wanted to ensure the number of its channels bundled into the DIRECTV deal remained unchanged.

Deciphering which of the two outcomes is most evident in the new deal will likely be indicative of which of the two companies conceded the most when agreeing the new terms and pushing this new deal over the line.

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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]