It’s D-Day for Viacom, which means devastation for television fans everywhere. Negotiations between the media company and satellite television provider Dish Network have disintegrated, and the result is that customers may lose key channels including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1, MTV, BET, Spike, TV Land, CMT, and more. Already, Viacom’s share price has dropped eight percent as subscribers worry about losing some of their most beloved programming options. Some 14 million customers could be affected by the expiration of the deal between the two companies, which in the absence of an agreement would occur on Wednesday evening.
“We are extremely disappointed that Dish has not engaged in a serious way to reach an agreement for Viacom’s number one family of cable networks,“ Viacom said in a statement. “Dish has made demands that are designed to be impossible to meet in order to take our negotiations public and likely force our programming off the air.”
The very public battle between the two companies takes center stage as the cord-cutting Millennial generation turns increasingly toward Web-based streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu for their entertainment. While Viacom hopes to prove that its own channels are as popular as ever, Dish seems less convinced.
“Viacom is asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in increases, despite the changing landscape that includes drastically reduced viewership of Viacom channels and wide availability of their content across multiple platforms,” a Dish spokesman said in a statement. Viacom also hasn’t had the best of luck with its ratings, with popularity dropping three percent across the board in early April. Comedy Central saw a 16-percent decline in its ratings, while Spike and MTV saw a ten- and five-percent drop, respectively.
Still, Viacom remains a considerable presence in the television industry. According to a report from Pivotal Research, 76 percent of U.S. TV viewers watched at least one Viacom network in February.
“I think Viacom can’t really afford not to do the deal with Dish and Dish knows this and is negotiating aggressively,” said Doug Creutz, an analyst with Cowen and Co. “But at the end of the day I am not sure Dish can afford to be without Viacom either because while their ratings are down, they are still a very watched group of networks.”