AT&T U-Verse Subscribers Get Their AMC Back; Dish Customers Get Movies They’ve Seen A Million Times Already

The deadline AMC Networks — the people behind quality programs like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and the first couple episodes of The Killing, and also a handful of channels no one watches — faced two contract deadlines this weekend; one with Dish Network and the other with AT&T U-verse. In the former standoff, the satellite provider stood firm in its decision to axe AMC; while in the latter, some sort of vague agreement has been reached.

Dispatches from the Death Star do not disclose the terms of the agreement but only say that the two sides came to an agreement on Sunday, which is when the cable provider was to have kicked AMC Networks channels — AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, WeTV — to the curb.

In a statement to Consumerist, Jeff Weber, President of Content and Advertising Sales, AT&T, writes:

It was important to us on behalf of our U-verse TV customers to come to a positive resolution as quickly as possible. We appreciate everyone’s willingness to make that happen, working diligently over the weekend, so customers can continue to enjoy the programming they love on U-verse, the fastest growing TV service in the country.

As recently as last Thursday, AT&T was calling AMC’s fee demands “disproportionate,” accusing the broadcaster of asking for double what it charges U-verse’s competition.

Whether this deal results in higher prices for U-verse customers remains to be seen, though each of these all-too-public slap-fights between broadcasters and cable providers has a ripple effect; the next time U-verse has to negotiate a contract, it has to figure in whatever fee boost it just gave to the last broadcaster. By the same token AMC Networks will use the U-verse fee as a basis for jacking up the next contract that comes up for renewal.

Though Dish’s decision to not back down from dropping AMC may shake the broadcaster’s ego a bit.

Dish has stated for weeks that it had no intention of renewing the AMC contract because the channels included in the network’s bundle just don’t bring in enough viewers to merit a fee increase.

On Friday, Dish announced that it would replace the departing stations with new offerings. Headlining that new lineup is HDNet Movies, which — as you might have guessed — features movies in HD. Of course, just a quick look at the movies airing today on the channel — Doc Hollywood, Blazing Saddles, Caddyshack — may be decent titles, but are all movies you’ve likely already seen countless times.

Dish customers also get regular old HDNet (which is apparently changing its name to the baffling “AXS.TV”) and Style.

Meanwhile, a few hundred thousand Dish customers are introducing themselves to the world of BitTorrent in preparation for the upcoming final seasons of Breaking Bad.

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  1. Bladerunner says:

    A rare Sunday update in the wild!

    Everyone shhhh….you’ll spook it!

  2. sparc says:

    Actually Dish is giving away a free Roku XD and a bunch of credits. Sometimes as much as $10 a month for 12 months.

    Link for proof:

    http://www.satelliteguys.us/dish-forum/283556-dish-drops-amc-networks-203.html#post2902634

    • superope says:

      It’s true, just logged out of a chat with Dish. Told them I wanted to upgrade to a package with AMC so I won’t miss the next season of Breaking Bad. They’re sending me a free Roku andcrediting my account $30. I’m not currently under contract with them either, and my accepting this offer did not change that. If you have Dish you should look into this, it did take about 45 minutes, but on an online chat that’s not bad.

    • carol mai says:

      yes, but they are charging me $1.98 to view one episode of any show on the free roku box. are you being charged? carol

  3. humphrmi says:

    “It was important to us on behalf of our U-verse TV customers to come to a positive resolution as quickly as possible.”

    Yeah, that’s why they waited until the 11th hour to come to an agreement.

  4. Charles Edward Winthrop III, Esquire, Investigator of the Unknown Music says:

    Dish won’t “replace” AMC with shit. They’re already taking away 11 OTHER channels along with AMC. The 350 America’s Choice currently has 171 channels on it, total (not counting the Sirius/XM music “channels”).

    Soon as I can, I’m dropping them, and switching to Roku.

  5. LEDZEPPELIN24 says:

    I am with Dosh, and, honestly, I do not care.

  6. prizepatrol says:

    I have been a DISH customer for about 12 years. I wrote them I would cancel my account over this. Today I am cancelling the account. I guess I will go with DirecTV, even though I hate Murdock.

    • frank64 says:

      You realize you are what gives the providers like AMC the ability to keep raising the prices higher and higher? The know that cable/satellite is going to get the heat from the customers, so they put the squeeze on them. They are really putting the squeeze on you when they raise your rates. The worst thing is many subscribers don’t watch AMC, so they pay for nothing.

      I understand the reason a la carte doesn’t work, but putting higher priced channels on higher priced tiers could give subscribers more control on costs, and help incentive companies like AMC to keep prices down. Yes, we will pay the increase in price, but we will be putting you in a higher priced tier, and raising the price of that. Ideally you would move a higher priced channel to optional, and AMC can price it as they like. Most networks fight that.

      • coffeeplease says:

        There are also many subscribers like my household that have no use for channels like ESPN which is ridiculously priced when you break it out per subscriber.

        I do watch AMC though so it works both ways.

      • frodolives35 says:

        Gasp a consumer leaves a company that does not provide what they want. The horror.

    • incident_man says:

      I agree with Frank on this one, you’re just enabling AMC with that kind of behaviour.

      The best lesson networks like AMC need to learn is that it is just tv…..nothing more; it can be replaced by alternate sources. It’s not like a J.G. Wentworth commercial:

      “It’s not MY tv, and I DON’T need it NOW!”

    • Vaulyrea says:

      I went to the DirecTV website yesterday just to take a look around, and noticed that they offer Bravo, AMC, and BBAmerica on their lowest tier package, unlike Dish Network, who makes you get at least the third level package to get these channels. I may switch as well.

      As for whether AMC has the “right” to ask for money, I’d first have to know when these contracts were first made. If they’re being asked to get the same amount of money they were getting when they were a little nothing network, before Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead, then damn straight they have the right to ask for more money.

      Dish Network already requires us to shell out too much money just to get AMC by forcing customers to pay for higher tier packages just to get it, so it’s bullshit to say that they’d have to raise costs on us again with this deal. I’m guessing that the majority of my bill every month goes to pay for sports channels that I don’t even watch. And now they boot one of the channels I actually do want. So screw Dish Network. I’m out.

    • NorthAlabama says:

      you’re in luck, murdock doesn’t own directv any longer, sold to liberty media in 2008. i figure that’s why their former ceo chase carey moved over to news corp as a coo…

  7. Demoliiton Man says:

    I have HDNet Movies on DirecTV. Really enjoy the channel since they show movies in their proper aspect ratio with no ad breaks and only a bare minimum logo in the corner that appears once every 30 minutes for so for roughly 10 seconds. Not to mention the channel does get some really great movies on there tho this month is a bit weaker then normal for what the channel will be airing. Also they do get exclusive movies before they hit theaters and DVD but its usually lesser known titles. I’m looking forward to “Magic of Belle Isle” that they are airing in a few days.

    • fatediesel says:

      Yeah, I used to watch HDNet movies quite a bit before my cable provider dropped it. They showed some pretty good movies and like you said it was nice to see them in their proper aspect ratio since very few channels actually show movies in their correct ratio.

    • nybiker says:

      Since I no longer have Directv, I am curious about the HDNet Movies channel. You say there is a logo in the corner that only appears every 30 minutes and lasts for 10 seconds. My question is this: Is this any sort of premium channel (a la HBO) or is it just one of many channels in whatever package you have with Directv? I guess an analogous channel would be TCM (Turner Classic Movies). It’s not a premium like HBO but they show movies uncut and no ads and their logo also comes on the screen every so often. So, if HDnet is not premium, then that’s great. If they are a premium channel, then it’s bad as a premium channel is supposed to show the movies the way you see ‘em in a theater and a logo on the screen, even for 10 seconds every 30 minutes constitutes editing the movie and is therefore not worthy of paying a premium fee (that was the reason I canceled Showtime & Encore before I got rid of the entire account – the joys of being unemployed).

      • Demoliiton Man says:

        HDNet Movies is part of the HD Extras pack on DirecTV which is $5 a month. From my memory that package also includes several other movie channels (MGM Movies, Sony Movies), Universal HD, Palladia HD (concerts), and a few others. It all varies with your cable/sat service on what tier they place it in. In the case of DirecTV its bundled with those other channel as its own ala carte bundle. The logo is barely noticeable from the number of times I have watched movies on the channel. In fact most of the times I tend to forget it ever pops up.

  8. Jawaka says:

    Congrats Consumerist for promoting torrents as a way to get something you haven’t paid for.

    • PSUSkier says:

      I don’t believe they promoted it so much as made an observation to the obvious.

    • golddog says:

      Not to open Pandora’s Cable Box on the ethics of content delivery, but as far as I’m concerned Dish subscribers who download episodes of Breaking Bad and Walking Dead or whatever are paying for them if Dish doesn’t decrease the monthly bill by the amount AMC cost and should feel guilt-free firing up their modem. Rationalizing? Maybe…especially b/c Dish will probably substitute lesser channels and call it good. But what’s a consumer caught in the middle to do? Trick the heads of AMC and Dish to come to a meeting and rig a wheelchair to explode? Downloading seems far more reasonable.

      As a side note, AMC must be hurting for cash. The show runner for Walking Dead who was terminated last year said the reason the large majority of Season 2 took place on Herschel’s farm was b/c AMC didn’t want to lay out the cash for the abandoned Atlanta sets and tight shots of zombies that required lots of effects. Breaking Bad was pretty spartan too. Shame they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

  9. HomerSimpson says:

    Depending on your package, what you might get as a replacement is nothing (just shuffling the channels to a different position).

  10. incident_man says:

    Actually, I’m kinda pleased that Dish stuck to their guns on this one. If more providers stood up to the network fee increases like this, rather than caving and making the consumer pay more for the same garbage, the networks might actually have to provide better quality programming. That’s the big problem right now: There are tons of channels to watch, but the programming on a vast majority of those channels is utter garbage, except for maybe a few educational programs here and there. On top of that, those who subscribe to basic cable or satellite have to pay to watch commercials! That’s what I love about Netflix. They may not have everything everybody would want, but I only pay 8 bucks a month and no f’n commercials! If I want commercials, I’ll just watch free OTA tv.

    • frank64 says:

      Networks like AMC appear to be setting up their own downfall. Short term, most subscribers will probably keep their service, but cable companies are getting concerned about the cord cutters due to the pricing. They are hitting a ceiling, but the networks don’t seem to care.

      I have been cable free for a long time and think my options are better than cable. No commercials and higher quality shows on my own schedule. Admittedly some of this is based on what I like to watch.

      • incident_man says:

        All it takes is for all the cable and satellite providers to band together and say, “no thanks, we’ll pass,” to the networks the next time some MBA at a network channel decides that the revenue increase looks good on an Excel spreadsheet and gets the CEO to agree with him.

        What would the networks do, cut millions of subscribers’ access off to their channels at the same time? I don’t think the networks’ advertisers would be too pleased with that decision.

        Of course, getting the cable and satellite providers to come together like that en masse would be another matter altogether, especially when it comes to a missed opportunity to raise subscriber rates.

        • frank64 says:

          They really hide behind the customer, and often the customer does their bidding. Prizepatrol is not alone.

          • incident_man says:

            Yeah, heaven forbid that someone would miss this week’s episode of “Swamp People” or some other useless junk.

    • scoutermac says:

      I am also pleased that Directv dropped G4TV. I wish Dish Network would have done the same. I am pretty sure dish renewed it thinking Directv would also.

      • Demoliiton Man says:

        Outside of the E3 coverage on G4TV that network is pretty useless to me. TWiT has filled in the void from the old TechTV days.

  11. clyde55 says:

    I’m with Dish Network here. If all I watched were one on or two shows on a network then there are other alternatives other than switching to another Satellite or going back to cable. If I want to watch these programs, I will eventually see them on DVD or instant streaming.

    Funny you should deride HDNET’s old movies though because that’s the majority of AMC’s programming. What you don’t mention here is that HDNET movies is Commercial Free, and when broadcasting old films in HD, they do it right in much better quality than AMC. On AMC believe there are about ten minutes of commercials or interruptions for every five minutes of programming. Despite AMC having an HD broadcast, many of the films they show are still reformatted, with films having a 2.35:1 ratio being squeezed to fit a 16:9 screen. So sorry, but I’ll take high quality HD broadcasts of old movies any day of the week over being ad bombarded by AMC.

    • clyde55 says:

      Oh and by the way. AMC did the exact same thing to IFC which used to be one of the best networks for finding offbeat films commercial free. It is now loaded with crap and commercials. I look for them to do the same thing to Sundance Channel as well, sooner rather than later. They just lost 14 million subscribers in one shot. I say goodbye and good riddens.

    • alexwade says:

      “On AMC believe there are about ten minutes of commercials or interruptions for every five minutes of programming.”

      For years, I have been saying AMC stands for “And More Commercials”. Thanks to the DVR, I don’t mind the commercials because I skip right past them every time. What bothers me is the commercials for other shows during the current show and during the credits. But the thing I hate the most is starting the next show while the credits for the old show are at the bottom. AMC seems to be the worst offender.

      • nybiker says:

        Ah yes, good American Movie Classics. They haven’t been themselves for years now. I stopped watching them once they became American Movie Commercials. I didn’t know they did that stupid thing connecting the current show’s credits with the next show.

        I’ve said it before, it’s not that us consumers are against commercials (because we know and understand that the OTA stuff has to be paid for somehow), it’s that the various networks and channels seem to think that there is no limit to the AMOUNT of commercials/promos that they can throw at us. Well, there is a limit. For me, it’s 5 minutes of ads/promos per 30-minute block. After that, then there’s no way I will sit through a show without recording it first.

        Other pet-peeves of mine, huge logos on the screen as well as text telling me the next episode of whatever is up next or tomorrow or whenever.

        /end of rant

        At this point, even when I am again one of the fully-employed, I don’t see myself paying for directv or dish or time-warner cable. I love my Roku & Netflix DVD/Streaming set-up. So what if I have to wait a few months to see the latest seasons of Nikita and Hot In Cleveland.

  12. Blueskylaw says:

    During negotiations, AT&T stated that their customers welfare was first and foremost in their mind, that’s why they waited until the eleventh hour to see who blinked first.

    Here is the order of blame:
    1). AMC Networks blames Dish Network and AT&T U-verse
    2). AMC Networks blames AT&T U-verse and Dish Network
    3). Dish Network blames AT&T U-verse and AMC Networks
    4). Dish Networks blames AMC Networks and AT&T U-verse
    5). AT&T U-verse blames Dish Networks and AMC Networks
    6). AT&T U-verse blames AMC Networks and Dish Networks

    Stating it another way: Every politician want to be re-elected yet every
    problem in the world is/was caused by the other party and never by you.

    It’s fun being stuck in the middle of a border war.

  13. jp7570-1 says:

    These are always non-stories. Both sides play their argument out in public, almost always about money. Everyone knows there will be a last-minute agreement, everybody makes nice, and the subscribers get screwed with a fee increase.

    Oh, for the day when a la carte pricing is allowed.

  14. frank64 says:

    I saw this and thought it would interest some. As a consumer, I don’t think we should keep a bad system just for jobs. Should we all by Monster Cables and insurance plans from Best Buy so they won’t layoff? If we don’t want to pay people to dig ditches with spoons just to keep them employed, then jobs shouldn’t force us to pay for channels we don’t want. It would be paying people do nothing of benefit.

    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Analysts-A-La-Carte-Would-Kill-1-Million-Jobs-120084

  15. HomerSimpson says:

    AMC pretty much went to hell when they added commercials and ditched the “American Movie Classics” tag (not sure if they both happened at the same time).

  16. who? says:

    The networks bundle a bunch of channels together, charging a fee for the bundle. If they unbundled them, 9 of the 10 channels in the bundle would die, and the survivning channel would cost nearly as much as the bundle does now.

    The cable companies bundle these bundles up, and pass the bundled bundles on to the consumer. If consumers could pick and choose individual channels, about 25 channels would survive, and the other 250 would die. The price would go up proportionally on the surviving channels. We’d pay $30 for ESPN, and $10 for AMC. The overall cable bill would probably be lower, but not by as much as people think.

    Or, if things continue the way they are, people will cut the cord entirely, and buy individual shows ala carte on iTunes and Amazon, leaving out the cable companies. Networks that have a bunch of shows that nobody in their right minds would spend money for separately will struggle. Who’s going to pay money to buy a season of Pawn Stars or House Hunters?

    The logical end of this whole thing would be that the producers of the shows will realize that they can distribute their show and make money without a network, and the networks will be left out, too.

  17. limbodog says:

    “could mess with the whole financial model the TV industry runs on” Here in America, we call that “competition”

  18. bkginsu says:

    I like the shows on AMC, but man is it the UGLIEST “HD” channel out there… Just a blocky, pixelated, disgusting mess every time I watch it.

    • who? says:

      Complain to your cable company. In most of the country, it looks as good as all the other channels.