As it grapples with its newfound fame as the poster child for small-to-midsize cable operators who have finally drawn the line on over-bundled programming deals, Suddenlink is also hearing a bit of chatter from forlorn subscribers who miss Viacom TV shows.
"Ack! The Suddenlink vs. Viacom War Now Hurting Humboldt's Ability to Watch The Daily Show Online," screamed a headline in the Lost Coast Outpost, an online news destination serving Northern California, explaining to its readers why Comedy Central, MTV, BET--more than 20 channels in all--were pulled off their program guides Tuesday.
"I feel like I'm in an abusive relationship with Suddenlink and I can't get out of it," said Charleston, W.V., Suddenlink subscriber Christine Stephens to her local paper, The Gazette. "For people who can't have a dish on their home, we need a little competition. I just feel like Suddenlink didn't consider their customers."
St. Louis-based Suddenlink, which serves 1.4 million subscribers, pulled Viacom channels off its video services Tuesday, after reaching an impasse on its licensing agreement with the programming conglomerate.
Signaling that this blackout might be different than the rhetorically fueled spats operators and programmers typically engage in, Suddenlink has announced a flurry of content deals that don't involve large bundles of channels.
BabyFirst, an independent channel targeted at toddler-aged kids, became the latest alternative channel addition to the Suddenlink lineup Friday, according to Multichannel News.
Viacom, meanwhile, is now blocking Suddenlink broadband subscribers from streaming its content on its various websites.
"Viacom has rejected all of our offers, including one we made yesterday," Suddenlink spokesperson Pete Abel told FierceCable Wednesday. "It's unfortunate we could not reach agreement, and we understand the frustration this will cause some customers, but we sincerely hope they'll give the new channels a try and that they find those channels as compelling as others have said they do."
Also on Wednesday, Time weighed in with a feature, wondering if Suddenlink's decision to drop Viacom will result in other smaller cable companies forsaking take-it-or-leave-it demands from entertainment conglomerates for large bundles of channels.
"This Small Cable Operator May Unravel the Whole Pay-TV Industry," reads the Time headline.
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