Monday, May 7, 2012

Why Is Dish Dropping All AMC Networks?

As cable, satellite, and telco cable providers seek to keep subscribers signed on, the concern by some may be that they shouldn't have to compete against web offering the same content. For networks, offering access to programs on other platforms brings new revenue streams but is also argued as a way for viewers to "catch up" on series that they haven't watched from the beginning.  Missed Season 1 of "Mad Men"; rent on Netflix, or others and be caught up to watch the latest season from your cable provider.

So why is Dish Network threatening to drop all of AMC Networks, including AMC, WE, IFC, and Sundance,  channels from its line up? Is it because: 1)  the rates are too high, 2) their shows are available on competing platforms, 3) viewership is too low across the networks, or 4) Get back at their ownership for the court loss they faced regarding the Voom lawsuit?  AMC claims it is #4, while Dish is arguing that it is the first three.

Certainly the first three arguments can be applied to every cable network on Dish and every other cable provider. Arguments regarding rates, exclusivity of shows, and viewership affect every contract negotiation.  Unique to these proceedings is the previous relationship between Dish and Cablevision regarding their Voom partnership, a satellite service that offered 100% original  HD channels. Unfortunately it was a failed business model that was structured in a way that  limited additional distribution.  With our regular channels finally offering HD feeds, these original channels were deemed less valuable and Dish pulled out.  So the  fight with AMC, even though it has spun away from Cablevision, may be a way to get back at its common owners, the Dolan family.

Regardless, these fights between networks and distributors are common place.  They tend to take longer and longer to work out, but eventually they all do.  A fight like this one may take even longer though as it may not be about the business but about personal feelings.

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