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Day 27 of the Dish vs. AMC standoff: Where’s the subscriber revolt?

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Can a major pay TV service really just drop a somewhat major channel that’s currently running a widely anticipated, Emmy-winning series and get away with it?

Nearly four weeks after blacking out AMC Networks (s AMCX) channels — and popular adult drama Breaking Bad along with them– Dish Network (s DISH) has seemingly done just that. And this could have broad implications in the pay TV business, where programmers have typically held most of the leverage when negotiating new affiliate agreements.

Asked Friday if a revolt among Dish’s 14 million subscribers has inspired the company to work with AMC on a new affiliate agreement and restore its channels, a spokesman for the satellite company said there was no update to the impasse.

Also read: Why Breaking Bad doesn’t scare Dish, but Walking Dead will

“Are you hearing anything,” he asked?

Strangely, I had to respond, “No.”

If the on-air and online campaign launched by AMC to steer Dish subscribers to other pay TV services is gaining traction, AMC sure isn’t beating its chest about it. An AMC representative on Friday told us grassroots subscriber revolts take time to gestate.

I also made an inquiry into the Dish sales department. A Dish rep told me there’s no timeline for AMC, WE TV and IFC returning to the service’s channel lineup any time soon. “Those channels are gone,” he told me.

Contrast that with the DirecTV/Viacom licensing dispute earlier this month — even as the corporate rhetoric raged on both sides, DirecTV sales reps kept assuring customers that a deal to restore channels including Nickelodeon and MTV was “imminent.”

Meanwhile, a perusal of the sales charts for Apple’s iTunes store shows that the most popular TV download is the most recent episode of Breaking Bad, titled “Madrigal.” This could be seen as lending credence to Dish’s negotiating position all along — that it has no reason to increase the program licensing fee it pays AMC, because its subscribers have so many other ways to access AMC shows. (New Breaking Bad episodes are also available through Amazon Instant Video, and Netflix has seasons 1-4 of the show exclusively.)

The AMC rep we spoke, however, said the network’s shows are always highly ranked on iTunes when they’re in season.

As for AMC’s linear TV ratings — and by extension, its ad sales — losing access to Dish’s nearly 14 million homes has undoubtedly rendered a hit. Last Sunday, ratings for the “Madrigal” episode were down 21 percent from the prior week’s fifth-season-premiere, with only 2.3 million viewers tuning into the initial run of Breaking Bad.

PR-wise, there appears to be little pressure on Dish. Summarizing the dispute for its online and mobile audience on July 3, ABC News lauded Dish for not saddling its subscribers with increased program licensing costs, titling its story, “Why Dish dropping AMC might be good for consumers.”

Asked whether he thinks AMC channels will ever return to Dish, Bernstein Research senior analyst Craig Moffett backed up AMC’s assertion that this impasse all ties into an unrelated legal dispute pitting Dish against AMC and its former parent company,  Cablevision.

Also read: AMC – “Dish never even talked rates with us”

Set to go to trial in September, Dish finds itself short on leverage in the $2.5 billion dispute, which stems from its decision to drop now-defunct channel Voom HD in 2008.

When a settlement does occur, Moffett contends, the restoration of AMC’s channels will likely be part of the agreement.

In the meantime, Dish doesn’t appear to be breaking a sweat … and while no subscriber data is available beyond June 30, the day AMC channels were yanked, it appears to have found its leverage.

85 Responses to “Day 27 of the Dish vs. AMC standoff: Where’s the subscriber revolt?”

  1. tim bar

    I just joined dish 3 months ago, and did not know of the dispute until they cut off amc to my programming. Do I like it? Not at all. But I have very little recourse at this time. Because of penalties for switching and I have 1 1/2 yrs left on my contract I am stuck. But rest assured I am not a great lover of dish an will never trust them again. And I would advise anyone else to not sign up with Dish. They are not to be trusted and will switch as soon as I can. Tim Bar Las Vegas NV

  2. Yes, you still pay Dish for AMC, IFC, Sundance & WE plus have to pay for a season pass ($2.84 per episode in HD) for EACH of your favorite series, just on AMC. You completely miss out on the other programming on AMC & the
    sister networks. I watched them frequently & since their programming was removed, have a hard time finding something I haven’t already seen. The number of shopping channels is completely absurd. If Dish doesn’t get this resolved after the trial, I will switch TV provider. What a crock when Charlie Ergen says “Let’s watch TV”. There isn’t anything worth watching without the AMC lineup. Breaking Bad is the best series I’ve seen in years.

    • Your lieing if your missing any progamming other than the four original your not telling the truth. Golden Girls and Fraiser are on any number of channels. And if you miss commercial filled movies try TNT TBS USA just to name a few. Everything on AMC was a re run so the statement that you can’t find something you haven’t seen before is true you were watching the same re runs but because it was on AMC it was ok. I get tired of the fake argument of I’m not getting this and I’m over charged for that. Fact is the three channels were replaced with like programming the lesson is don’t sign the contract unless you understand it all cable and satellite provides have the same get out of jail free card ” programming subject to change upon availability ” and the other stand by ” rates subject to change” so the best argument is as follows Your service no longer carries my favorite channel what can you offer me ? The fact is when you pay for a service under contract you better understand it

  3. mandatory

    In the end, Dish and all regular broadcast TV content providers are the losers here. They can turn off content until they don’t have any left, because they are about to be a dying way of receiving television anyhow. They are only rushing their demise. The number of homes without any cable or satellite provisioning is growing and will eventually outstrip their customer count, so bring it on.

    • The reason it is growing is because people can no longer afford tv now. They are finding entertainment on the computer. What will happen is with everyone steaming the content your Internet will go up and your choices on tv will go down and lastly your price to stream the shows will go way up.

  4. Janet Henry Hughes

    I cancelled the programming package and dropped my bill to 37 a month, If they pick amc back up ill get my package back. other people are like me and have a contract which they will pull out 450 if we break it. I dont like dish and i will go to dtv when this contract is over. until i get out of my contract i will pay for my walking dead through amazon, they have only showed why they are in second place compared to dtv

  5. Breaking Bad normally has 16 episodes in a season. But this summer AMC will only show 8 of those episodes. The remaining episodes will air in the summer of 2013. This allows AMC to keep production costs down while making the fans of the show wait an entire year for the outcome of this season. This is like going to the movie watching half of it and returning a month later to see the other half.

  6. Asok Asus

    I dropped dish a week after AMC went off the air and have never looked back. I was stunned at the substantially better sound quality I got from DirecTV. Was also tired of Dish DVR not recording shows correctly when they don’t begin and end exactly on the half hour, which is now pretty much all of them. I don’t even have to think about this with DirecTV; it just happens correctly automatically. And overall, I find the DirecTV GUI to substantially easier and more advanced than Dish.

  7. Dish is lying about AMC forcing them to raise rates. Dish never even entered pricing discussions with AMC. Dish had decided long before AMC’s contract came due that they were not going to renew it because of bitterness over their court decision. Dish is a collective of corrupt and vengeful crooks posing as victims while depriving their customers of a valued channel. Businesses like this should go out of business. I switched to DirectTV in protest and I actually like it a lot more than Dish. Go figure.

  8. Susan Werner

    I pay Dish about $150 per month and I just called them to ask if AMC was coming back. I did not get a real answer, but I gather it is not coming back. I found out that my contract is up too, so I can switch to some other service. And to keep the Walking Dead and Mad Men on my TV, I will do just that. It looks like I may be able to stream Netflix for much less than I am paying now. So I am looking into it. That is kind of sad, because I really like Dish, they have great customer service and I would not consider cancelling if I could still watch AMC. Oh well. Maybe I’ll find something I like better for less money…

  9. Wow, how many employees does dish employ, to go to message boards and insult there customers?

    I have dropped most of my programing while waiting for this to be resolved. I will likely cancel next week, I was wainting for walking dead to cancel. But I need to upgrade my package again for the EPL season, so I will just move now.

    • Perhaps everyone is sick of the wineinng when real problems are all around us we can’t go to movies and houses of worship with out worrying about getting shot and killed. Tv is crap and some people pay for crap so stop paying for it move on get real

  10. I called Dish because I watch multiple shows on AMC and received a major brush off. I am stuck in contract until February and they won’t let me out of it. They kept offering me three free months of Encore. I asked if Breaking Bad and Walking Dead were magically moving to that channel instead. The woman told me I could stream them free from Itunes and I told her she was crazy if she thought they were free and asked if my bill would drop the cost of purchasing the shows. Basically they don’t care.

  11. faye kutschman

    I just subscribed to Dish a couple of months ago and AMC was the main channel that I wanted. Shortly thereafter Dish drops AMC!! If this stupid ffeud is not settled and AMC is restored I will be dropping Dish – count on it.

  12. Exactly when did it change that content providers started to charge carrage fees. They used to beg for cable to carry their channels. Then they got greedy. They are double dipping by charging both for ads and the cable/sat companies. And they force channels that noone wants. This is why we cannot get to any true allacart packages. 2/3 of my channels are useless to me. Yet I have to buy them.

  13. Josh Robins

    I guess Dish is ” Really Hurting For Money” They probably don’t make enough with the rates of millions and millions of people? I’m sure AMC is in the same boat. GREED! The American way! Too bad we like the both of them…

  14. You can watch EVERYTHING on alternative websites. Do some research on google. To hell with DISH and the rest of them. I still have 6 mos to go on my contract but got them down to 25 a month while the contra ct runs out….

    • I have to agree with you Maxi, this is the direction I’m heading in. Television is supposed to be, and is designed to be, a fun addiction of sorts. I honestly believe Dish has talked themselves out of a job because when you actually have to go elsewhere to watch something, you realize there’s no upside to keeping the service. And the fact that it’s becoming just part of satellite service to lose channels for a while now and then (and with Dish, to just lose them altogether), is perhaps just an unacceptable part of the way they do business.

      I don’t care for being characterized as a “Dish hater” simply because I don’t agree with a company deciding what is valuable programming for adult individuals. That is a step too far for any corporation. And I can’t help but see that while Dish claimed AMC’s channels were so unpopular that they weren’t worth keeping, having access to these channels required one of the highest-numbered channel packages (which subscribers paid extra for–but not those who didn’t want those channels). But yes, I guess I do have “a sense of entitlement” about services I pay for; I’m not sure why people pay for specific services if only to not receive them, that seems silly, and hardly a matter of an attitude of entitlement!

      I still see no savings for customers since Dish dropped AMC’s channels. I have heard nothing about rates going down now that those channels are gone. For some in the short term, Dish has dropped monthly rates or given credits, but those won’t last long, and at the end of the day, it’s still a backwards way of treating a customer base. As long as Dish’s customers who don’t watch AMC attack the customers who do Dish’s work is made that much easier. If you don’t see that an AMC-free channel line-up is still full of “having to take out two other girls to date the pretty girl” for every single other bundle of packages (like the 16 channels that make up Viacom’s few popular channels), then I suppose Dish looks really good. And Dish is counting on the majority of its customers to defend it because they don’t understand the way that they do business–and that AMC’s package is no different from any other purchased by Dish–and it works out beautifully for Dish. “Here” says the customer, “Let me keep paying you the same price for less while I defend your consumer-focused practice!” It’s nothing if not hilarious.

      • So again the sense of entitlement rears it’s ugly head. You think rates should go down because 3 channels were removed, guess what they have been replaced by 3 different channels so nothing lost. The argument would make more sense if you were just paying for AMC and it was no longer available. Not the case it’s a weak network with 4 hours of above average programming. The rest of the programming can be seen on about 4 other networks and if you really want movies you can spend 5 bucks a month get Encore and see them without the commercials. Your point is true and I can’t argue you should feel like your getting what you pay for, and I think Dish network handled this whole thing poorly, but I get tired of hearing people say rates should go down. Your fooling yourself if you think Direct TVs rates won’t go up. They gave into Viacom and all their customers will pay. I feel really bad for the folks who signed up for the NFL package, you get it free this year but you are required to buy it next year, $300.00 good luck with that. In the end I think we can all agree pay tv service sucks it’s a matter of which one sucks the least, for your dollar Dish sucks the least.

  15. redsonja1313

    I would drop–however I have a contract so it will cost me 400 to move service !! So sick of this bull shit–Direct isn’t much better–and I’m guessing when their contract is up with AMC they will follow suit in dropping too … If Dish and direct wish to drive me to excursively watching online content its working !!

  16. The only way for consumers to get a fair deal is for Dish Network and others to play hardball.Passing along the unreasonable cost is bad. I for one will stick with them as I have not had a price increase in allmost two years and is much lower than the competition. Chuck

  17. I don’t like price increases. Dish has always been the best deal for the money. I just became a Dish customer and I intend to stick with them instead of jumping ship like a scarred rat. Dish won’t let the ship go down without a good fight. Dish has been lobbying for ala carte programming. Who else does that? If Dish gets charged more for programming it’s just common sense they must charge more to the customer and that’s something they don’t want to do. I say let’s give Dish support to battle it out and keep programming hikes in check. Dish is not backing down so why should I. Dish has my support for trying to keep programming reasonable. I never heard Direct battling like Dish does and I was an unsatisfied customer for years til I switched to Dish. People need to open there eyes and look at this in HD not SD.

    • I don’t understand how Dish is standing up for its customers, as Brian said, you’re still paying the same bill, just with less programming. Dish is collecting the same prices from its customers and is paying less out–I can’t figure out how that is looking out for the little people?

      Dish hasn’t negotiated with AMC at all, therefore they aren’t sticking to their proverbial guns. And I’m confused about the assertion that Dish is lobbying for a la carte programming, as I only know of them refusing to renew or negotiate with AMC; do you think the rest of your channels are not the result of bundling?? Surely it’s clear that they are!

      Unfortunately price increases happen to all non-new Dish customers, just as the price you pay for any service increases yearly. The only way Dish could keep from increasing rates, which again, is not their policy, would be to drop a bundle of channels every time a contract is up.

      It sounds like customers who don’t want AMC’s channels will find a good fit with Dish Network, but if you really believe this is about taking a stand and not about Dish’s animosity toward AMC in general, wouldn’t you be worried that channels you like will be the next to go? All TV providers who want to provide basic programming to their subscribers will argue over rates every time a contract expires, it’s just part of the business, but at least Direct and AT&T view keeping the programming available to their customers as the goal!

      I just don’t follow this logic whatsoever. The head of Dish is taking no cuts in pay, the cost of the programming has not been cut, and Dish’s shareholders receive increased revenue every time the company brings in more money and pays out less. This is the precise opposite of policies benefiting the regular/little person.

      • Well it sounds like another Dish hater. Someone with a sense of entitlement for something you pay for. The loss of AMC. WE, and IFC is equivalent to having to take the two friends out to date the pretty girl. And the pretty girl ain’t that pretty. I understand the loss of original shows on AMC, but it’s only four hours and not every Dish customer has AMC in their package so why should joe blow pay more a month for his package to pay for the rate hike to make AMC happy? Bye the way Dish has not had a increase for programming since 2011 FYI and lets face it no one watches We or IFC so why pay more for something no one watches. To answer you point about pay cuts and rate decreces when was the last time you paid less for a service you get monthly? Your phone electric or water bill never goes down. The point is if your going to pay for t.v. Service don’t complain when rates go up or a channel is lost pay t.v. is a luxury not a nessesity look for the best value if you can’t afford it or you feel your not the best value cut bait and go over the air.

      • Dave Haynie

        Dish has had a history of hard-lining price increases, true. But this isn’t that — they dropped AMC without any price negotiations even starting. They’re trying to hard-line their mis-behavior. Dish bought out the old Voom HD satellite service, some years back. If you had Dish back then, and HD, you’ll probably recall there were Voom-specific HD channels: Monster Channel, Rave, various others, about twelve in all. As part of the purchase agreement with Rainbow Media (owners of Voom), Dish would keep Rainbow’s Voom HD channels on the air… but they were shut down in 2010. That’s the crux of the dispute between Dish and Rainbow’s parent company, Cablevision. Cablevision was looking for $2.5 billion in damages.

        Oh, yeah, that other thing… in 2011, Rainbow Media LLC became AMC Networks. That’s the tie in here: Dish dropped the AMC Networks channels as leverage against Cablevision. Not due to any price negotiations. Why play dirty? Because they already got caught playing dirty: the New York Supreme Court has already ruled that Dish destroyed evidence in the case. So they enter the trial, due to start September 18, at a significant disadvantage.

        I’m generally fine with Dish looking out for my best interests, when that’s really what they’re doing. That’s not the case here: they’re taking away channels I actually watch, mostly due to their own bad behavior (and I really did like Rave HD and Monsters HD).

      • Directv and AT&T benefiting the regular/little person? I didn’t know the regular little person could afford those high prices? By the way has AT&T ever gotten Hallmark Channel? As someone stated earlier, if customer call dish and talk to them they are offering some compensation. I’ve heard it was giving customers a subscription to amazon and paying for the shows that the customers want.

  18. Yay for Dish. It’s about time someone took a stand against the programmer giants in defense of us poor tv viewers. I will be a Dish subscriber for life because I know Dish will always look out for the little viewer. Dish rules.

    • This has very little to do with the customers best interest. You are simply no longer getting those channels because of an unrelated legal matter…not because Dish has your back…Read the article.

  19. think about this your already paying dish for AMC when they dropped the channel did your bill go down in July?
    So now your paying amazon for a season pass plus your still paying dish the same money,nice way to fix a problem. so here is the real winner dish they don’t pay AMC but all there customers still pay them.

    • Yes, I agree with Brian…I lost 3 great channels and got 2 crappy channels in place of them. If I want to watch AMC shows, I have to pay itunes or Amazon (or whomever) to watch them and I didn’t even get a PERMANENT decrease on my bill for the 3 channels I no longer get so in essence I am paying for them twice. Also, it sucks having to watch the shows the next day…it’s like watching the superbowl streamed. You don’t get to enjoy the new cool commercials that AMC plays during each episode nor can you tweet about anything or talk to anyone about the episode until the day after. Makes me feel ‘out of the loop’ so to speak. While I love Breaking Bad, I haven’t switched providers yet because I was waiting to see if the trial or settlement between Dish and VOOM somehow brings the channels back to Dish. Luckily, the trial starts in September (before Walking Dead premieres ) so hopefully we will know one way or the other if restoration of the channels will be part of the final legal agreement. One can hope!! :)

    • Your bill is still cheaper than what it would be on directv. With everything going up in price these days you would think some of you would appreciate dish for charging you less money. The BP gas station isn’t helping and neither is the grocery stores. They are the worst. I wish I had everyone’s money that is complaining about losing a second or third level tv channel. We are all going to need it to pay for the increase that ESPN is asking for. I heard it from someone who said it best,”ESPN is a national sports tax on Americans.”

  20. I complained and kept saying “Direct”. Dish sent me a free Royku player and cable, told me to watch BB on Amazon and cut my bill by 15.00 a month. Since Direct doesn’t offer the European channels that Dish does why change?
    paul johnson

  21. The reason you don’t hear about the revolt is Dish Network subscribers are under contract. I cant spend $300 to drop them, but I would love too. AMC is one of my favorite networks so you better believe when my contract is up I am gone.

  22. you should follow Dish’s page on Facebook – every time there is an update, the comments are flooded by angry subscribers. Perhaps the true test will come when Walking Dead returns.
    How does paid viewership of AMC programming on Amazon et al give Dish leverage? It just shows that many of us will pay for quality that Dish won’t provide – given enough time, we’ll leave Dish altogether.

  23. Yes there is a revolt .Dropping AMC/IFC big mistake on their part. They have filled in programs with shopping channels. The comsumers are tired of being screwed

    • Believe me they haven’t added more shopping channels. I get sick of people talking about oh they took this away, and that now I’m getting taken advantage of. If you want to end up paying out the wah zoo for tv then go ahead and switch to something else. Last year directv said their fees increased 10% but only past along 4% to the customer. Tell me, how long can they continue to do that? Dish seems to be the only pay tv provider that stands up to the programmers and negotiates to keep prices lower. Yes they have raised an optional protection plan fee and starting with the 3rd room and their after each room is $7 but they still beat Directv on price and offer HD free for life. Ask anyone at directv if they can give that HD for free for life? Believe me I’ve been down this road. $10 a month savings on dish over directv. And another thing. If AMC is giving it to Amazon and others for basically nothing then why should dish pay anything for it? God knows they play enough commercials in one show to cover most cost.

  24. I wanted to address this revolt it exists but it’s intelctualy dishonest. All pay t.v. Services have there own fees for services, equipment and extras like HBO sports packaging ect. What we are looking at is the consumers sense of entitlement. It’s a paid service you get what you pay for. Granted if your not happy with your service change but remember all providers go through the same thing weigh the value vs the bells and whistles if you never watch HBO then does it make sense to switch because you get it for free? If you only watch a network for one show does it make sense to cancel that service or find it somewhere else ? The point is if you don’t like what you getting change, but you pay for it make the smart choice not the one that might cost more down the road. Remember when the company has to pay more for the programming they provide, the customer will pay more as well.

  25. Valend

    I have Dish and am a loyal fan of AMC programming. All I did is buy a Season Pass on Amazon streaming and , problem solved!! Better picture quality and no commercials, only diff is I have to wait until Monday to watch it!

    AMC is the one losing out here.

    Dish revolt? Meh!

    • Dave Haynie

      In theory, a possibility (though not better quality — Dish broadcasts in higher bitrates than Amazon). But here’s the problem: if I had access to decent cable or FiOS, for the internet connection needed, I wouldn’t have Dish in the first place. Where I live (rural South Jersey… not exactly Kansas or Iowa, though there is lots of corn) there’s no wired internet. I get 550MB per day on HugesNet, at 1.5Mb/s, before the Fair Access Policy kicks in. A single 45 minute HD stream at 3.5Mb/s is going to run 1.2GB, over twice my daily allotment, and way too fast for streaming to home anyway.

      For those with good internet connections, though, this does point to the future. With a faster network connection, I could realistically dump Dish or any other cable system and just call up what I want online, some paid, some free (legally speaking). Dish is one of those companies hastening that even… and this month, I’m looking into DirecTV as a replacement. Of course, they have their own channel disputes, but I’m gonna be needing my Zombies this fall.

  26. Joe C,

    I am not sure what you are talking about. I have had Dish for 5 years about and have not had an increase that I recall except when I upgraded packages.

    I side with Dish because the AMC show I watch I can watch anywhere. If it weren’t for that show, I’d never watch AMC and IFC sucked anyway.

  27. There is revolt, but no one talks about it. I followed Breaking Bad from day one and dropped Dish as a result of the AMC/IFC channel droppage. I know two others personally who did the same.

    If you do not have the top rated package, Dish lets you go (you can google how many customer Dish can lose can actually gain profit with the deal), so it’s got nothing to do with the customer. That’s why I dropped dish. Twice in 30 months they took channels away and only increase fees. The state they didn’t increase package premiums, but fees have gone up almost 200% in the last 18 months, so an increase is still an increase.

    There is a revolt. Dish minimizes it, and the only real loser, as always, is the consumer.

    • Darth Sidious

      Well if AMC wouldn’t hike their rates to an unnegotiable amount, dish would probly keep them in the lineup, as the consumer I don’t want to pay more because of a network wanting to make millions more per year on a select few shows, dish only wants AMC anyways, not IFC or we, but AMC is forcing the sale of all three

      • Dish can’t keep our cost low if every network with a hit show keeps jacking up the prices. Dish is just an outlet for networks to sell ad time. AMC is charging Dish more for providing 14mill+ viewers, it makes no sense. The consumer already pays twice for TV shows, one with our provider and 2nd is with the commercials we watch. It is ultimately AMCs doing. How it should work is AMC pays Dish, and AMC charges advertisers more and TV is free for consumers (just like radio or broadcast TV).

    • Despite your anecdotal tale, in reality, there is no evidence of any customer revolt from Dish network. Perhaps this will happen at some future date, but there is little evidence to suggest that it has already occurred.

    • I agree with the assessment. A lot of consumers, possibly the kind that AMC attracts, may not be ones to go on the road, but the churn numbers of Dish Network may yet tell a very different story. Even though Dish Network has a valid point of view; the exclusivity value of content does go down as it becomes exclusively available on multiple platforms and may not command premium at one platform. Anyways, this is still quite early to call and we will figure out the pros and cons of this decision (for both Dish and AMC) only in time (guess 3-6 months should be enough).