The spat between satellite providers like Dish Network or Direct TV, on the one hand, and media companies like Viacom or AMC, on the other, is a great example of how muchTV companies value online audiences and how soon you can expect shows like Game of Thrones, which is the popular example, to make their way online, unhindered by anything but your willingness to pay for the thing. Spoiler alert: not very soon at all.
Carriers believe they're paying too much to carry certain channels, which may very well be true. So they're trying to negotiate better deals with the big TV producers.
Both parties are playing hard, so several channels actually went dark as an understanding couldn't be reached. One of the reasons why providers won't pay as much as they used to, they say, is because the same content they're paying big money for is available online too.
To make its point, strangely, DirectTV it directed its subscribers to several Viacom websites, like Comedy Central's the Daily Show, which ran TV content for free. The same shows were no longer available on DirectTV.
Viacom, to make sure satellite subscribers didn't get to see what they weren't paying for, took down the videos, for everybody. It simply removed all of the videos from the sites, problem solved.
If DirectTV isn't paying, nobody can have them. The idiocy/greediness of such a move should be obvious to anyone.
AMC, which is engaged in a similar spat, is taking the opposite approach. To make sure that Dish subscribers don't miss out on the big season premiere of Breaking Bad, coming up this Sunday, it's putting it online, for free, for everyone.
Note that "everyone" in this article means the everyone in the US, because that's all that these companies care about.
Still, it's an interesting move, certainly better than Viacom's. Whether putting more stuff online when others are complaining about the stuff that's already there is a great negotiating tactic remains to be seen. But at least fans aren't being left out.
But there may be more to AMC's decision. While the war with Dish is a great excuse, it's entirely possible, even likely, that AMC knows full well the power of the web as a promotional device.
What better way to convince people to subscribe to cable/satellite deals that bundle AMC than to make sure as many people as possible see the first episode of the last season of one of its top-rated series, right up there with Mad Men and, to a lesser degree, The Walking Dead.
Updated to make it clear that Viacom si fighting DirectTV and AMC Dish Network.