DirecTV beefs up basic tier programming in wake of Viacom blackout

Michelle Clancy | 17-07-2012
Still in the throes of a retransmission-related blackout situation with Viacom, DirecTV is looking to placate its 20 million affected customers by adding premium channels to its basic tier. The satellite operator now offers Disney Jr., PBS Kids Sprout, Discovery Communications' The Hub, TV One and Madison Square Garden's Fuse to all subscribers.After failing to reach an agreement, Viacom recentlly pulled the plug on its networks, which include MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and more. Discussions are ongoing to resolve the issue, but in the meantime DirecTV is taking the steps it needs to in order to prevent customer churn.Viacom claims its programming accounts for 20% of the viewing on DirecTV and therefore should be able to command a higher retransmission price, which it charazterises as "pennies." DirecTV would beg to differ.
"[I]f Viacom thinks their networks are worth a billion more, then you have to be able to select what's most important in your own living room," the company says. "It's your money, so you should be able to decide."DirecTV is also offering Starz Entertainment's eight Encore networks for no extra charge to subscribers through the end of the month and is offering freeview of MLB Extra Innings and MLB Network Strike Zone through 19 July.