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Comcast and Paramount achieve automatic renewal and blackout prevention

Leading US cable operator Comcast has reached a line extension deal with Paramount Global to avoid potential service disruptions around the New Year holiday.

The deal, confirmed to Deadline by a Paramount spokesperson, comes before the current deal expires at the end of the year. In January 2022, Paramount (then known as ViacomCBS) and Comcast announced a “multi-year” broadcast extension.

Talks have been quiet in recent days, with no warning to consumers of looming deadlines that often accompany transportation negotiations. A blackout would have come at a bad time for both sides, as Paramount carries the NFL and other major programming. The company’s flagship CBS will air the Super Bowl in February, while cable sibling Nickelodeon will offer an alternate broadcast.

The new deal will see Paramount’s entertainment, news and sports channels and apps continue to be offered on Comcast’s Xfinity TV and Internet platforms. The deal clearly avoids the outcome some industry observers had predicted, namely the loss of linear transmission for some of Paramount’s 20-plus channels. When Disney reached a deal with Charter Communications last September, the deal included gains for streaming services like Disney+, but also loss of programming for well-connected networks like Freeform and FXX. As they grapple with subscriber losses due to cord-cutting, programmers are trying to avoid short-term shocks like live channel cuts as the entire industry continues to shift to streaming.

Since taking the top job at Viacom in 2015, Paramount CEO Bob Bakish has focused on balancing restrictions with distributors, a process that has become more complex since the rise of direct-to-consumer streaming. The distribution effort comes against a larger deal backdrop for Paramount. The company and its majority shareholder, Shari Redstone’s National Amusements, have recently received offers for some or all of their assets as the company continues to face a variety of challenges, including the poor advertising environment, streaming costs, cord-cutting and pressure on the company is operating cinema.

Paramount faces a new distribution crossroads in 2024 as its current contract with Charter expires. In mid-2021, the parties signed a multi-year contract in which streaming is an important part. Charter’s management team said it will use the latest Disney deal as a template for its future distribution deals.

Source: Deadline

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