Short version: AMC and DirecTV are fighting, and you might miss the second half The Walking Dead Season 5 because of it. Maybe. Probably not. Who knows?
Long version: The carriage agreement between AMC and DirecTV expires at the end of the year. Negotiations are apparently not going very or well, or, at least, poorly enough that AMC felt the need to run scary graphics and on-air spots during last night’s episode of The Walking Dead informing viewers that they could lose the second half of Season 5 — which runs from February to April — to a blackout if they don’t ACT NOW HURRY NOW CALL SOMEONE NOW NOW NOW. Along the same lines, the network also put out this adorably manipulative statement about the matter.
DirecTV’s agreement to carry AMC expires mid-way through the current season of ‘The Walking Dead.’ We’ve had a long, successful partnership with DirecTV and have great respect for their management team and the business they’ve built. Our goal is to continue our partnership, by renewing our agreement and extending our business relationship well into the future. Unfortunately, DirecTV has not engaged in meaningful negotiations with us, which leaves us to doubt whether a timely renewal is possible. In addition, DirecTV is in violation of our current agreement, and it has dropped AMC in Latin America. We hope to finalize a new agreement quickly but in the meantime, we think it is important to alert DirecTV customers who care about “The Walking Dead” that their ability to watch the show on DirecTV is at risk.
Let me be clear: When I say “adorably manipulative,” that doesn’t mean I think you should side with DirecTV in this particular game of chicken. In fact, as a general principle, you should almost never side with a large cable/satellite provider about anything. I just think it’s a little hilarious how blatantly AMC is playing the “THEY’RE TRYING TO TAKE YOUR ZOMBIES AWAY” card here. But hey, with Breaking Bad gone and Mad Men not premiering until some as-yet-unspecified date in the spring, the zombie card is pretty much the only one they have left. “You might lose Comic Book Men!” doesn’t have the same ring to it, you know?
Anyway, there’s still a long time before this becomes a serious issue. There’s two months left before the deal expires, and four-ish months until the second half of The Walking Dead premieres in February and anyone even notices that AMC has been blacked out since January 1, so the two sides have plenty of time to figure this one out. I just hope they do it before AMC gets really desperate and has Daryl turn and face the camera during the fall finale to say “Boy, these zombies are really getting on my nerves. Almost as much as the folks from DirecTV, who are putting the rest of our zany adventures in jeopardy. Call the number at the bottom of the screen and tell them you won’t stand for it.” That would be a bit too much, I think.