Spectrum Customers, Relax: You’re Not Losing Comedy Central

Viacom (VIAB) and cable operator Spectrum, a unit of Charter Communications (CHTR) have agreed on a multi-year programming deal that keeps Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Viacom’s 21 other networks in 16.6 million households, the companies said Tuesday.

“Viacom and Charter have reached an agreement in principle. Spectrum subscribers will continue to have access to Viacom’s networks, without disruption, while we finalize terms,” the companies said in an emailed statement.​

Viacom and Spectrum reached the deal after negotiations that prompted Viacom to run TV ads urging viewers to call Spectrum to complain about a potential blackout.

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Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, who took on his role last year, has made improving relations with distributors a key part of his turnaround strategy for the company.

Like its peers, Viacom is struggling to keep viewers as more people watch shows on smartphones and tablets. Six of the largest U.S pay-TV providers lost a total of 723,000 subscribers during the second quarter. Of that total, Charter alone reported 90,000 subscriber losses.

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The pressure from streaming companies is forcing numerous similar disputes between channel owners and their distributors. In September, Disney had threatened to pull ESPN from cable firm Optimum, a unit of Altice USA. The two settled their differences at the start of October.

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