As we mentioned last month, Dish Network says its relations with AMC Networks — which also includes IFC, The Sundance Channel, and WeTV, though people only really care about AMC — is kaput and as of July 1, subscribers will be left without their meth-making science teachers or slickly dressed ad men. The clock is also ticking on the deal between AMC and AT&T U-Verse that expires this weekend. Regardless, it’s the TV-watching consumer that will pay in the end.
In a statement to Consumerist, AT&T argues that “AMC Networks is seeking an excessive rate increase in our overall fees for the right to deliver these channels.”
The Death Star claims that AMC is asking it to pay nearly double what it believes its competitors pay.
“We believe the rates they are seeking are disproportionate compared to the viewership we see across their channels,” says AT&T, which says that if it accepts the AMC cost increase, it could lead to higher cable prices for subscribers.
The fact is that AT&T and AMC will almost certainly reach some sort of compromise. And that compromise will not be a decrease in the fees paid to the network, which will inevitably lead to higher prices for U-Verse subscribers.
And if AT&T and Dish follow through on their plans to cut these channels from the lineup, then subscribers are still effectively paying higher rates because they are receiving fewer channels for the same price.
Dish appears to be resolute in its decision to say goodbye to AMC, though the network continues to run a campaign asking fans to lobby the network to rethink things.
This situation is yet another example of why broadcasters’ practice of bundling minor networks in with hotter properties. Both Dish and AT&T have made it pretty clear that they don’t feel their customers want to pay extra for channels they don’t watch, and of the channels involved in this dispute, only AMC brings in a decent amount of viewers — and even that is only for a handful of awesome shows.
Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said as much when he recently remarked that there are “too many networks… and the industry would take cost out of the system if they shut those networks down and offered lower prices to consumers.”
At a time when a small but rapidly growing number of Americans are opting to go without cable or satellite TV for their home entertainment needs, both cable providers and broadcasters should be doing everything to keep customers from cutting the cord.