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.