Charter this Thursday will move 11 Viacom-owned channels to its most expensive tier (Gold), and eight Viacom channels to its least expensive plan (Select).
The company over the weekend informed Charter customer service representatives of the channel changes, the TV Answer Man has learned. (See memo detailing new channel lineup below.)
The moves stem from the new carriage agreement between Charter and Viacom, which was signed last November.
The companies issued a press release last November highlighting the switch of the eight Viacom channels to Select. which has the most subscribers and, consequently, the most viewers.
Seven of the eight channels, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, 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 Charter-Viacom agreement is certainly a victory for the eight channels which are Viacom’s most prestigious, and most-viewed.
However, the Charter-Viacom press release from last November did not reveal that Charter will switch 11 niche channels owned by Viacom from Silver/Gold to Gold only.
Charter’s new channel lineup, which will become effective Thursday, January 25. This lineup was sent over the weekend to Charter customer service reps.
The 11 channels, BET Her, BET Jams, BET Soul, MTV2, MTV Classic, TeenNick, NickToons, Logo, MTV Live, MTV Tres, and Nick Music, will lose access to a significant number of Charter subscribers when they are switched from Silver/Gold to Gold only.
The Charter/Viacom press release only 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), starting Thursday, the 11 Viacom niche channels will be in Gold only when they were previously in Silver and Gold.
For existing Charter 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 11 channels.
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 11 Viacom channels could lose access to millions of potential viewers because of the new agreement.
— Phillip Swann