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

85 Comments

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 Comments

DeeDee

We had upgraded with Dish and paid 20 more a month so we could get AMC and then Dish dropped them. they didn’t lower our bill 20 dollars instead to compensate they gave us 3 months of HBO which we never watched and we had to call in and cancel. We had issues with satelite freeze up we would set our DVR to record something and it would be something different (for example CSI was supposed to be on according to the programming when we went to watch it it was some bad movie) The football games are never correct and God forbid it sprinkles our dish goes out for hours. The customer service agents barely speak english and the ones that do are rude. We dropped Dish like a bad habit. Their programming, inconsistant billing and customer service are the worst!

Mike

So first typical annoying dish customer so lets debunk this one at a time there is no package that goes up twenty bucks 15 at the most unless you jumped two packages then it would be a 25 dollar difference and no your bill didn’t go down because you got more than AMC and it was replaced with ASX and if your dish went our at the slightest hint of rain did you just do without untill you dropped the service? No you didn’t same lame complaint that is baseless and news flash football games are subject to NFL programs and contracts you will have the same issue with any other provider more baseless complaints about everything but AMC offshore agents suck your right about that but everything else is hot air

Tim

I’m under contract and completely screwed. I am not a happy Dish customer and I will drop them like a bad habit when my contract is up.

Jesse

10/ 20 bucks a month? Increase me then whatever… I’d pay it until my contract was up, then bounce to a more affordable option if one exists. But if your dropping the channels, put some money back in my pocket.

Mike

Progamming subject to change without notice its called a contract you signed it live with it.

Wynne

Thank you Mike W for finding and presenting the facts and numbers of just what AMC was looking for in terms of a rate increase and the excellent reminder that Dish now pockets that enormous subscriber sum for AMC (and has, in fact, gotten quite a raise by default!). I highly doubt they have to pay for whatever it is that replaced it, the Bikinis in HD network, etc.

It’s difficult to compare Dish to other cable and satellite providers because Dish is the only one of these that ihas dropped tremendously popular programming and a number of channels. Although the blackouts and squabbles are becoming more common, the total loss of a set of channels and disregard for what the consumer wants to have the choice to watch is unmatched as far as I know.

I do wonder what will break Dish from the spell of Ergen’s hubris… They’ve patched things over for some existing customers by offering reductions and Roku’s, but that certainly will not continue and the subscriber loss (and the lack of people looking to sign up for Dish) will be too large not to notice eventually. If the Voom lawsuit goes the way that most expect, Dish is looking to lose quite a sum to AMC’s corporations too, and I believe some of those court decisions are coming shortly. It would be nice if the whole thing simply put Dish out of business; a lesson for any company looking to lose programming and keep fees!

MikeW

Dish has lost almost 1 million consumers. That’s a 24 Million dollar loss you would think they would wake up.

Mike w

Ok people wake up. I have been with Dish for 16 years. They all have gone up Dish not lately why because they don’t have to. Why because they just cut programing and guess what your rates are still the same where did the money that they were paying per subscriber to AMC go? Awh it is still in their pockets did they cut their rates to make it look like they care about the consumer Hell No. First it was FX now AMC have you noticed that Direct-TV has their splash all over A&E, what’s next History Channel or Discovery?I do not know or can find out what Dish was paying AMC per subscrber but I would dare say it’s not over a $1.45 per unit but at that Dish stuck estimated $19 million in their pockets why would they need to raise their rates? Nice Raise Dish? We are not as stupid as you think! by the way AMC only wanted $0.15 per unit raise. That’s still figuring in profit @ 25% Dish would be making another Half a million more profit. GREEDY or what getting as bad as Oil corporations!

Mike

Again we ask the stupid question why didn’t Dish drop its rates? Because its a business duh rates don’t go down they never will Direct will not go down Comcast will not go down its pay tv service it Dosent matter what AMC asks for or whom ever your paying for it be smart it’s a cable network it’s not a broadcast network you have to pay if the deal with Dish did not make sense then why would they do it? What all of us should be upset about and complaining about is gas prices electricity rates they go up every year it seems and theres nothing new to look forward to. Do you have to pay for tv no but you do if you want cable networks and your dealing with business this is not a business that you make friends in this business you try to keep the rate low the service on and make the right business decisions

ME

Dish just credited me on my next bill in an amount comparable to what it will cost me to download episodes of Breaking Bad from Amazon…. they are also giving other “deals” to “qualified” customers who complain about losing AMC. … So, call Dish, complain, get the credit, download the shows you miss… win win for everyone.

Amy Turner

I recently dropped cox cable because of their abusive rates. I wanted to get dish, but I love AMC programs (Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, The Killing etc.). I really only need HBO, Showtime, AMC, FX, FSC and the ESPN channels. Anyone have any insight as to doing that? That Roku doesn’t have the channels I want and I’m not familiar with Amazon. You must admit that AMC does have quality programming.

Wynne

Hey Amy, The Killing was cancelled so you don’t have to worry about that one! iTunes or Amazon Instant (you use that via a Roku or smart TV) will be your best bet if you just want to buy certain programs, but they will run you $2-$3 per episode. You just have to weigh the cost of how many programs & number of episodes versus a monthly fee; so it’s totally individual.

For ESPN, I would think you need a cable provider, but they might do some online video too? FX’s shows are carried by huluplus, but are “web only” (meaning you either need to connect your laptop to your TV when you watch, or just watch on your computer. Hulu runs about $7.99/mo. Most of the NBC, ABC and FOX’s programs are carried on huluplus and you can watch them on your TV with a Roku or smart TV. I wish Hulu would expand and AMC would contract with them, so that satellite and get cable get a little more competition, but who knows when/if it will change? Hulu also has forced commercials, just to give you a heads up!

Yes, I agree that AMC has some quality programs, and I hope no one here berates you for your personal opinion and likes!

Mike

Because pay tv service will never go down! This is the most stupid question asked by dish customers. Does your electricity bill go down do you pay less for gas hell no if you don’t want to pay for t.v. get a over the air digital receiver. Direct tv rates will not go down no ones will. “programming subject to availability” and price subject to change this is in every contract and commitment you sign when you get the service understand it and deal

jim202

Let me throw in a comment that few seem to pay any attention to. That is LIP SYNC. This is where you are watching someone talk and the sound you hear is either occurs before the moth movements or occurs after the mouth movements. Have brought this to the attention of the DISH network several times. It is really noticeable on the local news channels.

Anyone else having this problem? The DISH engineers keep trying to blame it on my big screen TV. I ask them if this was the case, why don’t I have the problem on all my local channels and not just one or two of them.

Scott

All valid points, I guess. My experience with DISH is this:
* Have not seen a rate increase in the 3+ years since I switched back to them from DirectTV (what a fiasco that was but that is off topic)
* However, since I am a Walking Dead junkie, I called to let them know I am looking into other options, including switching services. They promptly told my about the different options I had to secure the programming from AMC I wished to have and decreased my monthly bill to compensate.

Captain Crunch

Lol, I can care less about AMC. Besides, I’ll just watch the shows on Netflix once they are released, I’d rather keep my bill lower.

Amy Turner

Thats all well & good if you don’t mind watching old programming. Online netflix is really a let down to be honest.

Wynne

I’m sorry Mike, what do you know about why I terminated and when? You assume it’s financial? Since [I’m] “as dumb as I read” I can’t figure out if you’re having a pity party of one because you didn’t meet Mensa’s criteria or if you’re just really enjoying your rate because, well, “you can watch you shows”?

Regardless sir, your argument is irrefutable!

Mike

Double talk and dodge I know if your counting down to when you can cancel your dish it’s because either you can’t afford to do so or you can’t get your new provider untill then your just complaining to complain and you have no real argument or you would have come with something much stronger bluster pomp and bs all the same to me

Wynne

Woohoo, I’m going to be Dish Free in 2 weeks!!!!

Buh-bye Charlie-“Our customers are not looking at zombies in New York City, They live in farms and ranches … We have data, real data from our customers. And for whatever reason, our customers don’t watch some of those critically acclaimed channels at the level that we read about in the paper, perhaps because we skew a bit rural or whatever.”-Ergan. Good luck running your company into the ground by insulting both the intellectuals and the dullards, ah, but you really don’t need any additional help do you?

New company (with no mention of Dish) wanted me to know that they will never lessen their subscriber’s programming because they won’t negotiate for popular networks. Seems like Charlie pulled a “Don Draper” and just gave his competition their ad campaigns for free, except I guess Charlie skews too rural to know who that is. The irony is delicious!

Mike

The irony will be in 6 months when you have a rate increase. Typical Mensa member Dish customer, can’t afford the early term fee for one month laughable and if you think this new provider Is immune to network negotiation your as dumb as you read and not everyone is intressted in Mad Men or Walking Dead, Breaking Bad so on. My package does not include AMC so I’m not missing anything and glad my rate won’t go up so you can watch you shows.

Benjamin Patri

Go Dish Network! Why should we pay for channels and sill have to watch commercials as well??? If a channel wants to make money, they should go back to the old fashioned way of charging through the commercials that they show or charge consumers to watch their channel commercial free! Why should I pay for a show and get commercials when I can pay and get it commercial free????

lonnie

How do I get out of contract with dish witch i just signed up for 2 years? I was told i would get amc channel!!

Mike

I’m in the position of leaving cable when my contract expires in 12 days since I will not pay $79.99/month for expanded basic with a DVR. Aside from “The Good Wife” , my favorite dramas are all on AMC. So where do I go? DirectTV (more expensive than Dish) is my only choice. Since it’s still cheaper than cable, I’ll gladly go there. No one is talking about losses Dish may suffer from new subscribers that it will not get.
Undoubtedly, the real issue is the unrelated lawsuit that probably won’t be settled for a couple of months, too late for me…..and Dish.

Chris

I will drop Dish sometime in September. Going to Direct TV so I can have my Dead in October.

Lisa S

Plenty of subscribers have dropped Dish. I did so in early July and switched to DirecTV. My dad and stepmom, my brother and his girlfriend, and 3 other friends’ households did the same. My boyfriend stayed with Dish, but only because they offered him all of the pay channels for free for 6 months, $150 in bill credits, a free Roku player, and the NBA package for free. He figures he can come watch Breaking Bad and the Walking Dead at my house. He said once his incentives dry up, he’ll be switching to DirecTV too since Dish doesn’t seem to care about what their customers want. I realize I can buy episodes online, but if I am going to do that – why even have satellite?…

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