Viacom Blocks Suddenlink Subs’ Online Access To Shows

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As expected, Viacom is blocking Suddenlink Communications’ customers’ access to its online content in the wake of its failure to reach a carriage renewal agreement with the pay TV provider.

According to Suddenlink, customers, including broadband-only subscribers that may subscribe to another video provider, who logged into websites like Nickelodeon.com and others were greeted with a screen (pictured) that said their access has been blocked due to the impasse. Suddenlink is directing its customers to other sites like Hulu and Amazon.com to view Viacom networks’ shows online.

The tactic is not a new one for Viacom or other programmers. CBS did the same in its August 2013 blackout of Time Warner Cable systems in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. And in 2012, Viacom blocked access to its online content to DirecTV customers during a nine-day carriage standoff between the two companies.More recently, Viacom blocked online access to Cable One customers after that distributor dropped its cannels in April.

“In doing this, Viacom is violating the principles of an open Internet,” Suddenlink said in a note to subscribers Wednesday. “If you agree, please consider contacting the FCC: http://www.fcc.gov/. In the meantime, the shows you like may be available through YouTube, Hulu, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Amazon Prime, iTunes, or other Internet sources.  Thank you for your patience.  We hope Viacom will quickly reconsider and stop this action.”

Viacom’s carriage agreement with Suddenlink expired at midnight on Oct. 1, part of a dispute over what the cable operator called demands for a 50% increase in carriage fees.  Viacom has said that it offered to accept an earlier Suddenlink proposal for carriage, which the operator rejected. Suddenlink has denied that claim.

“Viacom’s content is available through hundreds of partners, including cable, satellite and many online destinations," Viacom said in a statement. "Customers of these partners receive robust access to our programming, through a variety of audience-friendly distribution agreements that can include television, online and VOD offerings. Suddenlink abruptly decided to end our relationship, which has resulted in the continued interruption of Viacom programming across platforms, including online, through Suddenlink.”

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