DirecTV Now

It happens once a year or so. And not just on streaming services, but on traditional cable and satellite systems, too. A little message scrolls along the bottom of your screen, warning you that you're in danger of losing certain channels and that you should call a phone number to complain.

What's the deal? Money. It's always money.

AT&T — owner of DirecTV and DirecTV Now — and Viacom — which is home to such channels as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central — have come to an agreement that will keep the latter's channels on the former's distribution platforms.

In other words, they agreed on a price. And it had absolutely nothing to do with you.

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The two companies put out a joint statement Monday morning:

"We are pleased to announce a renewed Viacom-AT&T contract that includes continued carriage of Viacom services across multiple AT&T platforms and products. The deal also brings AT&T customers more choice and improved value for Viacom content. We expect to announce additional details in the near future."

That this is almost an annual occurrence (at least it seems that way, even though it's not always a spat between these two companies) shows how it's just a naked play for leverage. AT&T, however, likely doesn't have as much of that as it did a year ago.

DirecTV Now lost some 267,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2018 — and that was before it increased pricing on DirecTV Now. Chances are that trend is going to continue, and for good reason: It's just too easy to use another streaming service.

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