Time Warner settles with Viacom over shows on mobile devices

Viacom has been at odds over its intellectual property rights with companies that license Viacom shows and offer them to cable customers on electronic devices like iPads. Last year, Viacom sued Cablevision Systems Corp. and Time Warner Cable in separate copyright lawsuits.

Neither case entered a courtroom.

Viacom, which owns Paramount Pictures and television channels like Comedy Central and MTV, wanted both cable companies to stop letting Viacom shows stream on tablet computers and similar portable devices. A settlement in the Cablevision suit gave the provider approval to distribute shows on mobile electronic devices.

The suit against Time Warner Cable produced a countersuit, in which Time Warner claimed its licensing agreement with Viacom covered the electronic-device distribution.

Viacom’s revenue heavily depends on pay-television operators like Time Warner. Last year, more than 90 percent of Viacom’s operating profit came directly from cable television providers.

In the settlement, Time Warner, like Cablevision, walked away with permission to continue to air Viacom features on electronic devices like iPads. The details of the agreement were made private, although it was reported that Time Warner paid nothing extra to Viacom.

Cable companies are anxious to fulfil the needs of consumers, who are increasingly using portable devices to watch shows that were originally made for television. Time Warner is among a group of cable operators that make Viacom a financially-strong media presence.

It is possible that Viacom saw that there was more to lose by rattling the cages of the companies that distribute its programming. Settling the intellectual property dispute with an agreement may have ensured that good financial times will continue for all parties involved.

Source: Bloomberg, “Lilly, Jaguar Land Rover, Viacom: Intellectual Property,” Victoria Slind-Flor, May 18, 2012