DirecTV, Viacom bury the hatchet—and not in each other

DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) and Viacom (NYSE: VIA) have come to an agreement, ending their 10-day contract dispute and returning Viacom's channels—including MTV and Comedy Central—to the DirecTV lineup.

While there is little detail on what brought the two sides together, Deadline Hollywood reported that the deal is "long term" (in Viacom's words) and includes "an option (for DirecTV) to add its EPIX service."

What made this dispute especially juicy was the first-time implication that a television package, whether delivered by the programmer or the satellite service, might not be necessary in this era of online video. When the channels first left DirecTV's lineup, the satellite provider pointed viewers towards Viacom's online content sites. Viacom then took down a lot of that content rather than have DirecTV customers look at it for free.

Then, after one of its own, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, made fun of the whole dispute, the content went back up online.

Whether that was a factor in the ultimate resolution is still unresolved. What is known is that Viacom's shares fell 2 percent over the dispute period and "live, full dating ratings in the target demos for its channels were down 27 percent" versus the same week a year ago the Deadline Hollywood story said. DirecTV's shares, meanwhile, dropped only 1 percent—although the publication suggested that damage to the satellite provider could have been worse in a prolonged dispute.

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