NO END IN SIGHT FOR VIACOM-DIRECTV STAND-OFF
Analysts are expressing surprise that the carriage dispute between Viacom and DirecTV has now gone into a second week with no sign of a settlement. “We never thought a cable network with the scale of Viacom would be off the air for even a week,” Evercore Partners analyst Bryan Kraft said in a note to clients today (Thursday) as he concluded that “the large distributors have more leverage than originally perceived when up against all but the largest programmers.” Although a report in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday indicated that DirecTV’s competitors were not attempting to capitalize on the dispute — supposedly because they realize that they could find themselves in a similar stand-off — BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield pointed out today that “The reality is a VERY different story.” Greenfield noted that Comcast, DISH, and Cablevision are each attempting to lure DirecTV subscribers who may be angered by the loss of the Viacom channels. However, he pointed out, most of those subscribers are currently merely waiting out the dispute, assuming that it will soon be resolved, while those who complain are being offered substantial reductions in their cable bill or discounts that can be applied over the next six months. Evercore’s Kraft figured that DirecTV would have to lose 1.15 million customers before its subscription revenue failed to equal what it is currently saving by not paying Viacom for its channels.