Recently, FX took a step towards entering the streaming wars with a $6 ad-free service being offered to Comcast customers. Now, AMC is joining it, with a new ad-free service similar to FX’s, confirming the streaming wars are heating up.
Disney, Apple, and a host of others have been trying to nip at Netflix’s heels, with mixed success. AMC isn’t quite going there yet: $5 will get you an ad-free channel, only on Comcast for now. That fiver a month lets you watch AMC’s shows, both current and past, streaming in addition to the ad-supported channel on your dial. AMC, for its part, has made it clear you won’t have to subscribe to another service to catch The Walking Dead or Better Call Saul quite yet:
“Our partners understand that AMC has to serve its passionate and ever-changing audiences in new ways on new platforms,” [AMC Networks’ president of ad sales Scott Collins] said. “We’ve made it very clear to everyone that AMC Premiere is an upgrade option we think will appeal to some fans, but a core focus for us very much remains the AMC ad-supported linear and digital environments.”
And even if AMC is thinking of making the jump, it has lucrative deals with Netflix and Hulu to consider, not to mention the challenge of designing and rolling out a vast, Netflix-sized streaming architecture. So this is, for now, just an option for fans who don’t like ads, and have an extra $5 to spare. Still, the low price, and on-demand nature, will serve as a test bed of sorts, both for AMC and other channels.
Cable channels are increasingly antsy about cord cutters; the more people jump to watching Netflix and Hulu, the fewer retransmission fees they collect and the lower their ad sales. At the same time, they can’t abandon cable companies wholesale, as they’re still making money off cable. So expect to see more cable channels try this out, to see just how far their audience’s loyalty will go. Because if enough of us are will to throw AMC $5 a month to stream, it might start asking why it needs cable at all.