Verizon, Viacom Strike New Carriage Deal

Covers Out-Of-Home Viewing, Wireless Distribution Of ‘Marquee Content’
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Verizon Communications and Viacom have inked a renewal of their carriage agreement for FiOS that will allow the telco to distribute Viacom programming out of customers' home while also clearing the way for a new, national wireless distribution deal.

That deal enters the picture as carriage renewal talks between Viacom and Suddenlink Communications remain at an impasse, with Viacom now blocking Suddenlink customers from accessing its online content at Web sites such as Nickelodeon.com. The Viacom/Suddenlink carriage deal expired on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at midnight.

Financial terms of the Viacom/Verizon deal were not disclosed, but it covers FiOS’s ongoing carriage of 25 Viacom networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, Spike, TV Land and CMT, as well as two Viacom joint venture services -- EPIX and Aapka Colors. 

Starting early next year, Verizon will also offer live, out-of-home viewing of all of Viacom’s channels through the telco’s FiOS Mobile app, expanding on an arrangement that already allows Verizon FiOS to stream most of Viacom's programming to devices that are connected to the customer’s home network. Under the new agreement, Verizon FiOS will enable dynamic ad insertion on all Viacom video-on-demand and authenticated TV Everywhere content.

The deal also grants Verizon Wireless with national rights to distribute “marquee content” to its mobile customers (details about that piece will be revealed “in the near future”), and clears the way for Verizon "to launch innovative new TV packages to better match content packaging with consumer preferences."

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York last month, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam shed some light on the telco’s future pay-TV distribution plans, including one that will see the company launch an over-the-top service by mid-2015 that will offer a lineup of “custom channels.” Verizon is also developing a live video service that will be delivered on its mobile network using bandwidth-friendly LTE multicast technology. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said in July that Verizon Wireless plans to “go commercial” with such an offering as early as 2015.

Dish Network, meanwhile, is developing a single-stream multiscreen offering that’s expected to launch later this year. Sony has also cut a deal with Viacom to distribute live and on-demand content from at least 22 Viacom channels for the CE giant’s coming virtual MVPD offering.

“People want to watch TV anywhere, not just in their living rooms. Disruption in the TV marketplace is happening and Verizon wants to reach agreements with content providers like Viacom that reflect that reality and give people what they want,” Ben Grad, Verizon's executive director, content strategy & acquisition, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to extend our long-term distribution partnership with Viacom Media Networks, delivering some of the most recognizable and popular kids, music and entertainment programming available to our customers anytime, anywhere on a variety of platforms from TV to wireless."

“Verizon FiOS continues to be among the most innovative and consumer-focused video services on the market,” added Samantha Cooper, SVP, content distribution, Viacom Media Networks. “We’re glad to have reached an agreement with Verizon that covers the full spectrum of viewing options for their customers across platforms, including wireless, and extends our long-standing and productive partnership.”

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