AMC got very direct in its ongoing carriage dispute with DirecTV, taking the issue directly to the number one show on television. The network ran ads and graphics pointing viewers to its KeepAMC.com website and hotline (855-KEEPAMC).
While DirecTV wasn't mentioned by name on the network, it is the first thing viewers see on the website. “DirecTV customers you risk losing AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, We TV” the site proclaims.
AMC's carriage agreement with AMC is set to expire at year's end, and so far the two sides have not reached an agreement. Targeting “Walking Dead” fans is a particularly savvy move by AMC, as the first half of the red-hot show's fifth season is scheduled to wrap in November. It won't pick up again until 2015.
“DirecTV's agreement to carry AMC expires mid-way through the current season of ‘The Walking Dead,'” AMC said in a statement. “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.”
It's a tactic the network has used before. They took to the airwaves to warn “Breaking Bad” fans on Dish Network that they might not be able to see the fifth season of that show if an agreement can't be reached. In that case, they did not reach an agreement before their contract expired, leading to a three-month blackout.
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In response, DirecTV wrote “Don't let AMC scare you!” on its own website dedicated to carriage disputes, DirecTVPromise.com. “As a DirecTV customer you will you will not miss any of this year's new season of ‘The Walking Dead’ or any other shows. AMC is contractually obligated to provide you their programming for several more months and we intend to renew our AMC partnership at a price that's fair to our customers.”
A link brings customers to a table that clearly breaks down that DirecTV will air the first eight episodes of the current season. The second half of the season isn't scheduled to begin until mid-February 2015, so DirecTV is either feeling confident that this issue will be resolved by then, or they don't consider those episodes to be part of the current season.