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MetroCast inks an 11th-hour deal with Viacom to broadcast MTV, Nickelodeon, other networks

By Union Leader staff
April 01. 2014 6:21PM

Cable TV provider MetroCast and content provider Viacom ended their game of chicken over pricing late Monday, but neither side will say who blinked.

Viacom is in a battle with smaller cable companies around the country over fees the companies pay to broadcast Viacom networks like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

Viacom had threatened to pull its programming when an agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative expired at midnight.

MetroCast is a member of NCTC but had been negotiating the renewal of its contract directly with Viacom. The cable operator announced a deal on its website Monday night, hours before Viacom would have gone dark in MetroCast communities as it has with those of some other cable companies.

“There are some video providers who have not yet reached agreements. In our case, we were able to reach agreement without disruption to our customers,” said Andrew Walton, vice president of marketing and communications for MetroCast. “We were able to retain all of the Viacom networks that we carry on our lineup.”

Walton described Viacom’s renewal with MetroCast as a “long-term agreement.” MetroCast provides cable television, Internet and telephone services to 25 communities in the Belmont area and five in the Rochester area, with customers in nearby Sanford, Maine, as well, for a total reach of about 70,000 households.

The Viacom lineup includes BET, Centric, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, MTV Hits, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Nick Teen, Nick Toons, Spike, TV LAND, VH-1 and VH-1 Classic.

Some cable networks elsewhere in the country refused to accept Viacom terms.

“Despite the fact that viewing is down on 12 of Viacom’s networks, some by as much as 30 percent since 2010, Viacom demanded an increase greater than 100 percent to carry all 15 of their channels,” said Cable ONE President & CEO Tom Might in a news release.

Cable ONE serves more than 730,000 customers in 19 states

“We asked for a price reduction because of their declining viewership and they refused,” he said. “We also asked to drop the less popular networks and only carry the networks our customers really watch, and the rate they demanded was even higher. That means we would have to pay more, for fewer channels.”

Viacom’s fight is with the smaller cable providers, not with the two largest, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which hope to receive regulatory approval for a merger.

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