Viacom has secured an important long-term carriage agreement with a mid-sized cable operator, announcing a pact with New York-based Mediacom Communications Wednesday.
The deal with the MSO, which serves 891,000 video subscribers across the Midwest and Southeast and is now a prime takeover target, clears the decks for Viacom's next crucial deal, a licensing renewal with Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH).
The Mediacom deal covers 19 Viacom channels, including the usual suspects: MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Nickelodeon. Movie channel Epix, for which Viacom serves as part-owner and distributor, was also in the mix.
Meanwhile, Mediacom is able to significantly expand VOD and TV Everywhere access to Viacom programming to its customers.
Viacom entered talks with Mediacom having more than 70 percent of the U.S. pay-TV market covered with long term licensing agreements. However, with the always-tough Dish talks ahead of it, and investors concerned about a flurry of smaller cable operators--led by Suddenlink Communications and Cable One--having made the decision to abandon Viacom's networks last year, there is a sense that the conglomerate didn't drive too hard a bargain with Mediacom.
"We appreciate Viacom's willingness to enter into a reasonable agreement that takes into consideration our consumers' sensitivity to pricing and the alternative ways content is consumed today," said Rocco Commisso, Mediacom's founder, chairman and CEO, in a statement.
- read this Viacom press release
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