Charter and Viacom last month announced a new carriage agreement that was interpreted by many publications as a major victory for the programmer. However, the TV Answer Man has learned that it’s actually a setback for 10 Viacom channels which will likely see their viewership shrink due to the new pact.
The press release revealed in November that Charter had agreed to return eight high-profile Viacom channels to the cable operator’s basic package (‘Select’), which has the most subscribers and, consequently, the most viewers.
Seven of the eight channels, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Spike (Paramount Network), TV Land, and VH1, were previously in Charter’s most expensive plan (‘Gold’), which has the fewest subscribers. The eighth channel, CMT, was in both Charter’s Silver and Gold plans.
The switch from Silver/Gold to Select/Silver/Gold will mean that eight of Viacom’s most-viewed channels will be available to a larger number of Charter subscribers, which indeed is a significant score for the programmer. (Nick Jr., another top Viacom channel, will stay in Charter’s Silver and Gold plans as part of the new agreement. ).
However, the Charter-Viacom press release did not reveal that Charter will switch 10 other Viacom channels from Silver/Gold to Gold only.
Instead the release said: “Additional Viacom networks will continue to be available on Spectrum Silver or Spectrum Gold tiers.” (Note: Spectrum is the brand name for Charter.)
While that’s technically true (for instance, Nick Jr will stay in Silver and Gold), 10 other Viacom channels will be in Gold only when they were previously in Silver and Gold.
(Charter yesterday began publishing notices of the Viacom channel changes, which will become effective on January 25, 2018.)
The 10 channels, BET Her, BET Jams, BET Soul, MTV2, MTV Classic, TeenNick, NickToons, Logo, MTV Live, and Nick Music, will lose access to a significant number of Charter subscribers when they are switched from Silver/Gold to Gold only.
Charter, which is the nation’s second largest cable operator, has more than 16 million video subscribers. It’s unknown exactly how many are in the Silver and Gold plans, but it’s reasonable to assume that the 10 Viacom channels could lose access to millions of potential viewers because of the new agreement.
For existing subscribers, the Gold plan costs $20 more per month than Silver, and it seems unlikely that many people will upgrade just so they can keep watching the 10 channels.
Bottom Line: The Charter-Viacom agreement is certainly a victory for Viacom’s most prestigious, and most-viewed, channels But 10 Viacom niche channels, which were already struggling for viewers, will now have an even more difficult task of staying afloat.
— Phillip Swann