AT&T has seemingly given into pressure from both consumers and Viacom as it has now confirmed a number of Viacom-owned channels will be returning to the company’s DIRECTV NOW service.
As you might imagine with a retreat like this, AT&T has not yet publicly announced the reversal in any grand fashion, instead opting to simply update the DIRECTV NOW website to advise of the change.
In total there are five channels returning. These are BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nick and Nick Jr.
The website explains all of these channels will be available on both “Plus” and “Max” plans by April 5.
These five channels were all removed when AT&T launched its latest DIRECTV NOW plans. This also came at a time when AT&T was upping the price of access for both new and existing customers.
Both of these changes received a fair amount of criticism on their own and when taken together the distaste was amplified even more.
This was then followed by what became a contentious and public carrier negotiation between AT&T and Viacom, and at one point the falling out between the two suggested an AT&T-wide Viacom channel blackout was on the cards.
The two companies did eventually agree a deal although at the time the finer details of the deal were not made public. Leading to the assumption the new agreement was focused on retaining access to Viacom channels for the standard DIRECTV and U-verse platforms. Not DIRECTV NOW.
Evidently that has now changed and users of the NOW version of the service can expect the return of these five channels.
It’s worth noting this is not a complete reversal by AT&T as the introduction of the new plans did away with far more than the channels mentioned here.
Overall the number of channels significantly decreased as AT&T seemed to look to re-imagine DIRECTV NOW as a platform designed to showcase networks and channels it owned, including those that were newly-acquired courtesy of the company’s Time Warner acquisition.
The channel-culling was most notably felt by Viacom who saw eleven channels it was invested in removed from the main streaming plans. For reference, that equated to all of the Viacom channels that were previously offered on the platform.
Now, even when taking into consideration the return of these channels, the overall product offered by DIRECTV NOW still is far less than it was before - in terms of the number of channels.
As a result of this, the reversal is not a total loss for AT&T as its goal has always been to cut down on the amount of third-party content it serves (and pays for) and the company will still be doing that - including still cutting back on Viacom content.
Whether this proves to be enough of a meaningful change to satisfy those who have been vocal about their unhappiness with the changes, remains to be seen.
A number of people had already taken to social media stating their intention to cancel their DIRECTV NOW subscription and switch to another service due to AT&T's approach of charging more for less.