Viacom, after earlier this year reaching a broad carriage renewal with Altice for carriage on Optimum and Suddenlink systems, has renewed its distribution agreement with No. 2 cable operator Charter, adding a content and advertising partnership to the mix.
The multi-year renewal follows a tentative agreement reached last month. It expands the companies’ distribution relationship on Charter’s Spectrum systems and adds a new co-production deal for original content and a plan to collaborate around certain aspects of advertising and measurement.
Under the deal, Charter will offer Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central, Spike (soon to become the Paramount Network), VH1, TV Land and CMT on the Spectrum Select (or basic) tier. Additional Viacom networks will continue to be available on Spectrum Silver or Spectrum Gold tiers. On-demand access through set-top boxes and authenticated apps will continue. Tiering, often a friction point between programmers and distributors, came up in this instance as Charter looked to put Viacom on more costly tiers, a move that would have restricted its growth over the long term.
A novel element of the agreement is the co-production of original content that will be made available exclusively to Charter’s U.S. subscribers. Paramount Television and Charter will jointly produce the programming. Viacom will distribute it internationally, as well as in additional domestic markets, including potentially on Viacom networks, after Charter’s premiere window expires.
On the ad front, the two companies agreed to team up for several “advanced advertising opportunities.” Advanced advertising is an umbrella industry term for a range of technologies and tactics aimed at bringing about more sophisticated processes in the TV ad space. Charter and Viacom will collaborate on the use of anonymized viewership data, on advanced advertising opportunities, and on addressing unauthorized password sharing. In the runup to the deal, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge decried the password sharing, among other issues he had with Viacom.
The news comes on the eve of Viacom’s third-quarter earnings report as CEO Bob Bakish continues his effort to turn around the company after several years of turmoil.