Do you get your weekly fixes of The Walking Dead via DirecTV? Well, if that is the case, you might want to get slightly worried.
DirecTV is currently embroiled in a fairly messy and public dispute with AMC about the renewal of their contract. As far as we know, the deal between AMC and DirecTV is due to end possibly during the half season break of The Walking Dead Season 5. If the deal is NOT renewed, you can expect DirecTV not to show the second half of The Walking Dead - or indeed anything shown by AMC.
As always, money is at the heart of the dispute
It seems the main crux of the issue concerns subscription fees. As a subscription network, AMC depends on these for the main bulk of their income. Although there have been public broadsides between the two organizations (both have shown advertisements attempting to lure viewers to their side of the argument), neither have explicitly stated what is preventing a renewal. What seems likely is that AMC is demanding DirecTV increase subscription fees in exchange for AMC content.
TWD is AMC's bargaining chip
Of course, with The Walking Dead regularly bringing in 15 million viewers, AMC is hoping to use their flagship show as leverage in the deal. On the other hand, AMC will not want to lose an important source of revenue and viewers by forcing a DirecTV to blackout AMC. After all, DirecTV is the second-biggest provider, after Comcast.
In their advertisement and statement to the media, AMC attempted to scare viewers into putting pressure on DirecTV. They stated:
DirecTV’s agreement to carry AMC expires midway through the current season of The Walking Dead. DirecTV has not engaged in meaningful negotiations with us, which leaves us to doubt whether a timely renewal is possible.
DirecTV won't be bullied
Alternatively, in their own statement titled 'Don't Let AMC Scare You,' DirecTV played down the threat, reiterated the sanctity of The Walking Dead on their service, and presented AMC as demanding more money from their customers. They stated:
DirecTV customers will not miss any of this year’s new season of The Walking Dead or any other shows. AMC is contractually obligated to provide all of its programming for several more months and we intend to renew our AMC partnership at a price that’s fair to our customers.
So who's to blame?
With all this back and forth, it's hard to see who is really to blame for this dispute. However, it seems that AMC has demanded some kind of alteration to the deal, as you would think DirecTV would be eager to renew their contract on the basis of their former - presumably satisfactory - agreement. A video from their CEO, Mike White, continues:
When local broadcast stations, sports networks and other channels want to be paid more for the same channels you already have, we're going to do everything we can to minimize the impact to your monthly bill. It's important that we stand together and do everything we can to protect you and your family from these rising industry costs.
Luckily, this kind of thing happens relatively regularly once a particular show becomes successful, so networks and providers are quite well-versed in maneuvering around each other.
However, although a blackout could be avoided, we should remind ourselves that deals have fallen through before. Subscribers to Dish Network Corp recently lost Time Warner Inc.'s CNN and Cartoon Network last month due to a deal falling through.
Are you prepared to pay more for The Walking Dead?