Both ViacomCBS and Charter Communications, the Number 2 U.S cable operator, just struck a multi-year carriage deal which will include streaming, according to Deadline.
The agreement covers linear networks, and streaming outlets like Paramount+, Pluto TV, BET+, and Noggin are earmarked for “future distribution to Spectrum customers,” a press release said. (Spectrum is Charter’s consumer cable and broadband brand.)
Like its traditional TV programming peers, ViacomCBS is managing a delicate balancing act, pursuing direct-to-consumer streaming while also preserving a still-profitable linear business in secular decline. An area that is large in interest is advertising, as marketers are looking for a TV to evolve more quickly into a vehicle with the same flexibility as digital media.
In the previous renewal cycle, which took place before the reunion of Viacom and CBS in late-2019, Viacom had a tense negotiation with Charter. It warned viewers of a potential Charter blackout before the companies eventually reached an agreement. CBS, which until 2019 was separate from Viacom, set its last renewal with Charter in 2018.
For ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish, who led Viacom prior to its merger with CBS, repairing frayed distribution relationships has been a key strategic objective throughout his tenure. His predecessor at Viacom, Philippe Dauman, incurred significant resentment among pay-TV operators by trying to ram through steep rate increases even as network ratings were starting to slip. Some systems ended up dropping the company’s networks for long periods as a result, putting a squeeze on a key revenue stream.
“We are pleased to have reached a new deal to deliver ViacomCBS’ expansive portfolio of popular brands and premium programming for Spectrum audiences to enjoy, plus greater choice in how they consume our content,” said Ray Hopkins, President, U.S. Networks Distribution, ViacomCBS. “Charter is a valued partner, and we look forward to deepening our long-standing relationship.”