TV Data Summit 2017: Viacom’s Schireson Says Charter Deal Could Be Blueprint

New York – With the ink on its carriage deal with Charter Communications not dry yet, Viacom’s chief data officer and EVP Kern Schireson told an audience at the Multichannel News/B&C TV Data Summit here that the pact, details of which have not been released, could serve as a blueprint for future deals.

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In characteristically vague language – programmers and distributors are typically contractually obligated to keep the details of carriage deals under wraps – Schireson told B&C business editor Jon Lafayette during an NYC Television Week keynote that the new deal builds on work Charter and Viacom have been conducting for a while.

“There was an ongoing conversation with Charter about the opportunity for these two businesses to work together and to connect some dots and work more efficiently,” Schireson said. “There are things MVPDs do uniquely well, there are capabilities and assets they have, and there are things on the publisher side in the way they transact and run their businesses that are also unique and valuable. Those things have been held at arm’s length from one another.

“Historically, publishers and MVPDs have gone to the table and treated it as zero-sum game – I give you a dollar more, that’s a dollar less for me; you get more stacking rights, you get a different flexibility around channel positioning and packaging, I make less money,” he continued. “I think what we were able to do, because of the run up to the deal and the history and intent of both of these companies, we were able to do something that when the details emerge, a lot of folks are going to look at as a potential blueprint for how to not make this a zero-sum game, and how to really work in partnership to make the TV ecosystem bigger and better and more efficient and to position ourselves for the future in a way that is going to allow us to compete more effectively with some of the folks outside the TV ecosystem that are going after the same dollars.”

Schireson didn’t provide any details, but given his position and Viacom’s past deals that have had an advanced ad component, it is likely that would be a big part of the most recent transaction.

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Viacom and Charter said Oct. 17 they had reached an agreement in principle. The deal is expected to be finalized shortly.

Some reports have said the new deal will involve Charter having to carry fewer channels -- Reuters and the Wall Street Journal said Thursday (Oct. 20) that Charter will carry eight of Viacom’s nearly two dozen channels on its basic tier, with the remainder carried on more expensive packages.