The channels will become available April 5 on the $50-a-month Plus level and the $70-a-month Max level. Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV, BET and Comedy Central are available on Plus.
A few days before the drama surrounding the March 22 expiration of a high-stakes carriage agreement between the companies, DirecTV Now had unveiled Plus and Max, which upped the monthly rate for DirecTV Now but also shuffled the lineups. The Plus and Max tiers did not include any Viacom networks, and likewise skipped programming from companies like AMC Networks, Discovery and A+E. Stocks in all of those content companies took a significant hit as a result, and the move signaled that AT&T would not fold easily in its talks with Viacom.
The dispute wound up being resolved early Monday without a blackout of Viacom channels on AT&T’s 24.5 million households getting DirecTV satellite or U-Verse cable service.
Normally, the movement of channels and systems is routine and not always worth such detailed coverage. But the case of Viacom is unique for a few reasons. First of all, the relationship with AT&T is significant, estimated to account for some 25% of distribution revenue. Second, the company has been in an aggressive push under CEO Bob Bakish to repair relationships with pay-TV partners after years of acrimony under Bakish’s predecessor, Philippe Dauman.
Looming in the background as well is the prospect of Viacom reuniting with CBS, with whom it shares a controlling shareholder, National Amusements. While some on Wall Street had cautioned that a DirecTV blackout could have hobbled Viacom to the point that it would need to do a CBS deal as a matter of survival, Loop Financial analyst Alan Gould argued just the opposite today in changing his rating on Viacom from a “hold” to a “buy.”
BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield noticed the Viacom news on the DirecTV Now website earlier today and tweeted screen grabs. “Say hello to Viacom Networks (they’re back),” he added in an accompanying tweet.