Does Viacom Have More At Risk Than DirecTV Does In Programming Standoff?

That’s what some analysts say this morning about the dispute that has left 20M satellite customers without Viacom‘s 17 channels. DirecTV’s payments to Viacom — at an estimated $2.25 per subscriber each month — amount to about $550M a year for the networks company, or 14% of its revenue, Credit Suisse’s Spencer Wang figures. But even though Viacom says it’s the most popular programmer on DirecTV, Wang observes that it lacks the bargaining clout its peers enjoy. Viacom doesn’t have a broadcast network and stations — assets that strengthen Fox, Disney, and NBCUniversal‘s hands in re-transmission consent negotiations. Viacom also doesn’t have a popular sports network, also typically considered a must-have service. Indeed, another Credit Suisse analyst, Stefan Anninger, is rooting for DirecTV to hold out. “The end result of networks driving higher fees for channels, which distributors, in turn, pass along a portion of to their subs, could be a shrinking pay TV pie, particularly as online video alternatives grow,” he says. Even if DirecTV loses some subscribers “we hope that [DirecTV’s] willingness to ‘just say no,’ is contagious.”

Related: No Deal: DirecTV Loses Viacom’s Channels As Carriage Talks Break Down (more…)

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