Citigroup Research analyst Jason Bazinet cratered Viacom's share price last month when he suggested that the media conglomerate's upcoming carriage talks with Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) could go south in a hurry.
For what it's worth, the Viacom sales team did just prove that it can successfully work with the satellite operator, carving out a deal for premium cable network EPIX to run on Dish's new Sling TV service.
Under the agreement, EPIX, EPIX2, EPIX3 and EPIX Drive-In will all be live-streamed on Sling TV, with a launch date still pending. Sling will also have the ability to show more than 2,000 EPIX titles on-demand.
"Our customers crave the newest movies like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Transformers: Age of Extinction, but they also have a growing appetite for the classics and EPIX delivers both," said Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV, in a statement. "Sling TV will feature EPIX's linear channels and movies on-demand in an add-on package that is accessible and affordable."
Premium channel EPIX is a joint venture between Viacom Inc., the conglomerate's Paramount Pictures division, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Viacom's sales team, however, handles distribution for the subscription programming service.
Dish has had a number of tough negotiations with programmers of late, which undoubtedly factored into Bazinet's predictions of arduous talks with Viacom. However, Dish's strong desire to accumulate digital rights for Sling TV is said to be the key factor in why talks with media companies like CBS Corp. and Turner Networks bogged down.
Dish just officially launched Sling TV on Feb. 9. However, a survey of 2,871 consumers conducted by Ipsos MediaCT suggests that the operator has its marketing work cut out for it.
The survey found that only 11 percent of U.S. consumers are even aware of the new OTT service. And 67 percent of Sling's target demographic--adults 18-34--say they aren't interested in the service.
Also, 44 percent indicated brand confusion from the Sling TV OTT service and the Slingbox streaming device manufactured by Sling Media.
- read this Sling TV press release
- read this Variety story
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