It’s a game of chicken. On one side, there’s the cable TV operator that doesn’t want to pay big bucks for programming. And on the other side, there’s the programming giant (owner of CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.) that says it’s not getting its fair share of the cable company’s revenues.

So, if a deal isn’t reached tonight, Viacom is threatening to pull all of its programming from Time Warner Cable. It’s a bold move by Viacom. They’re banking on customers fingering Time Warner for the impasse, but if the cable company doesn’t flinch, Viacom will lose a lot of viewers.

I’d say in the end, it’s a bargaining tactic. Neither is likely willing to lose the subscribers/viewers that the other one provides. There shouldn’t be any channels going dark, but I’d hold on to those Colbert Report episodes you Tivo’d just in case.