Following this week’s resolution of a carriage dispute that would have otherwise caused a blackout of Viacom’s TV channels on Dish Network, the two companies have worked out a deal that will not only keep those channels live, but will also bring select channels to Dish’s Internet streaming service, Sling TV. According to Viacom, the company will make Comedy Central, BET, Spike, MTV, Nick Jr. and others available on Sling TV in the “coming months.”
While no exact launch date was given, it’s worth noting that the channels will arrive on both of Sling’s products — its original single-stream service and the newly announced multi-stream service. The latter, in case you missed it, addresses one of Sling TV’s largest problems (besides its still-clunky interface and glitchy streaming issues).
Before, you could only stream Sling TV’s service to one device at a time. The new multi-stream product lets you stream a limited number of Sling TV’s channels to up to three devices at once. The company is negotiating to expand the channel lineup for this product, so the Viacom win is a worthy addition.
In total, Viacom’s 18 channels will be carried by Dish Network, while a smaller group is coming to Sling TV.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Sling deal misses out on one of Viacom’s top kid properties: Its flagship kids channel Nickelodeon was not mentioned as being one of those arriving on Sling. VH1, CMT, TV Land and Nicktoons were also not listed, though they will remain on Dish Network.
It’s also unclear for now how the new additions will be packaged on Sling TV. The streaming service offers its users a core bundle of TV channels for $20 per month, then lets users customize that base product by adding on $5/month packages centered around a theme — like kids channels or more sports, etc. It’s likely that some of these new additions will be used to improve the channel lineups found in these extra packages.
Still, this was a hard-earned deal that came right down to the deadline. The previous contract had been set to expire at midnight Eastern on Wednesday. Dish, whose pay TV service has around 13.8 million subscribers, is not a customer Viacom could afford to lose — especially as more of today’s consumers are cutting the cord with traditional television in favor of over-the-top streaming services.
And for that very reason — cord cutting — Dish had been pushing for Viacom to agree to let it stream its channels over Sling TV.
Financial terms of the deal were not revealed, but The WSJ said that Viacom will receive a mid-single-digit percentage increase in its affiliate fees from Dish for each year of the five-year contract, citing sources.
Viacom investors reacted favorably to the news — sending shares soaring over 12 percent on Thursday after the agreement was announced. A Reuters report also noted Dish is known to be a tough negotiator, and tends to allow for blackouts in 75 percent of its negotiations.
Execs touted the deal in a positive light, in Viacom’s announcement.
“Dish has historically been and remains an important partner for Viacom, and as part of our commitment to entertain audiences wherever they are, we are pleased to offer select Viacom networks as part of DISH’s Sling TV product,” said Viacom Executive Chairman, President and CEO Philippe Dauman in a statement.
“We appreciate Viacom’s willingness to continue with us on our journey as we work to deliver the best, most innovative television services available,” added Charlie Ergen, Dish’s Chairman and CEO.