Is The DirecTV-Viacom War Boosting YouTube Viewership?

If you’re a DirecTV customer, you’re probably missing your fix of “The Daily Show” or “Workaholics.” That’s because DirecTV and Viacom are currently still in a dispute over Viacom’s 17 networks that has dragged on for nearly a week.

The reason? Viacom wants DirecTV to pay $1 billion more in bills to carry its content. Consequently, this would mean higher bills for already burdened ratepayers.

To make matters worse for Comedy Central fans, Viacom has suspended all streaming of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” away from the Web. Ouch. Now, everyone, including non-cable and satellite subscribers, is feeling the pain.

If there’s one probable reason that cable television disputes are becoming commonplace, it’s the rise of online video at the expense of cable. A recent report by the Consulting Convergence Group pointed out that 2.65 million Americans have cut the cord between 2008 and 2011 in favor of cheaper streaming options like Netflix.

Since many more people have shifted towards organic, independent content on YouTube and/or watching their favorite television content via Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu Plus or Roku, it’s changing the numbers game. With more options available, flipping through thousands of channels you don’t want to watch will never be the same.

The rising cost of watching television is a great factor in the epic battle between producers and cable providers. Cable customers are paying on average $86 per month–a 6 percent increase from last year, according to the latest survey by the NPD Group. Since cable and satellite providers usually bundle multiple channels, it means that choosing individual channels is not an option. Forcing cable customers to outdated bundling of channels that they don’t want should be a thing of the past. YouTube and online video has changed the game so completely that people are ditching cable and satellite television for the comfort of their Playstation 3’s, laptops and iPhones.

While we hope that DirecTV and Viacom find a resolution, these carriage disputes will only bolster YouTube and online video to the point that cable and satellite may be a thing of the past.