UPDATE: AMC Networks, NCTC Talks Continue Past Contract Deadline

The Walking Dead Cliffhangers Brand Loyality
Courtesy of AMC

UPDATE: Negotiations continued well after midnight ET on Jan. 1 between AMC Networks and select NCTC member companies, averting a blackout, at least temporarily.

AMC Networks and a coalition of independent cable operators are going down to the wire in negotiations on a new carriage agreement covering about 4 million subscribers, most of them in small and rural markets.

AMC Networks execs and reps for the National Cable Television Cooperative remained in talks Thursday in an effort to hammer out a successor agreement to a deal that expires at midnight Jan. 1. The Lenexa, Kan.-based NCTC in total represents about 850 small cable operators covering about 12 million subscribers, although only a portion of NCTC member companies are involved in the AMC Networks talks.

Tension in the negotiations has been building for some time, with both sides warning viewers for weeks that a blackout threat is looming. AMC is on a mission to secure rate increases for its mothership channel as well as a combination of fee hikes and distribution for SundanceTV, IFC, We TV, BBC America and BBC World News.

AMC is looking to its next round of carriage negotiations with MVPDs to secure meaningful gains for the flagship outlet that has been fortified by one of TV’s biggest hits in recent years, “The Walking Dead.” At present AMC is believed to command far lower per-subscriber fees than competitors such as USA Network, TNT and FX.

In addition to higher fees for AMC, the company is looking for wider distribution of its other channels. Many of the smaller operators have balked at these points at a time when cord-cutting is accelerating and operators are looking to slim down bundles or emphasize broadband service over pricier video packages.

AMC in a statement said it still hoped to reach a deal with NCTC members. “The Walking Dead” is a big bargaining chip, but the immediate leverage is dampened by the fact that the show does not return with new episodes until Feb. 14.

“We have extraordinarily high regard for the NCTC and for its members. We have long supported smaller cable operators, and the particular challenges and considerations that they face in the service of their markets. We will continue to endeavor to do everything we can to make them successful,” AMC Networks said.

One NCTC member already went public with its promise to drop AMC as of Friday. Anchorage-based General Communication Inc., Alaska’s largest cable operator, blamed AMC’s demand for “massive fee increases.”

“We know Alaska ‘Walking Dead’ fans will be disappointed that AMC’s sky-high rates prevent GCI from carrying the show on our traditional TV lineup,” said Bob Ormberg, GCI’s VP of content and product management. It’s telling regarding GCI’s focus on broadband that the company directed viewers to find “Walking Dead” on Netflix (albeit with new episodes delayed by many months) or Vudu, Walmart’s online content distribution platform.

“The good news is that our customers have more viewing choices than ever before and GCI has made sure that fans can watch ‘The Walking Dead’ by other methods with GCI so they won’t miss an episode when season 6 resumes in February,” Ormberg said.

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  1. Matt Galvin says:

    BBC World News,Sundance HD CCI needs to add it by doing AMC Networks demands and moving HD Channels to Basic HD plan and SD ones between 1 and 99 and add others that AMC Networks wants it to add.

  2. The enemy of the cable or dish subscriber is the consumer themselves. We overpay based upon a subscriber model that ESPN foisted upon the cable and dish companies 30 years ago when the competition was rabbit ear antennas. With so many platforms and where we watch unlimited, the consumer COULD be King if only we weren’t so infantile. They take away our Zombies or our British imports and we lose our minds, thus losing the consumer’s high ground. If we held our ground, the providers both technological and of content would adapt to us and see their current business model of $100.00 a month television as unsustainable. Fight the power, hold your water and pull the plug.

  3. I’m not sure what all this means but they better not FUCK with my The Walking Dead! Happy New Year’s!

  4. get bent says:

    dear greedy AMC or insert any other stupid network nobody cares about you thinking you deserve more money from the subscription fee i pay my provider. I am forced to watch your repetitive garbage commercials, that is your income. dont like it well charge more for your commercial airtime and stay out of my wallet and piss off. Option B is i still dont care and just pirate your crummy shows which are edited for me with 0 commercials so you do the math.

    • Lisa Hartford says:

      I got rid of my TV years ago. I was exhausted paying cable for sports we never watched in our house.
      The movies were nothing but re-runs of re-runs. The new shows were terrible and we never watched them, either. And the TV is choked up with commercials. So both my brother and I gave away our TVs. I got Netflix on my cpu and Smartphone, and my brother took to playing guitar. We have never looked back and don’t miss cable one bit. NCTC says it has “long supported it cable suppliers”; translation: We have long sucked the blood out of people we consider to be fools and we are now going to double down on our contempt for them and gouge even deeper. People, get Netflix for $8.72, a month and be done with the behemoth cable gougers.

  5. Alexis Swigert says:

    I don’t understand, why the big change. My family & I love watching The Walking Dead & had gotten into their new series Fear of The Walking Dead…. it would be a shame for a blackout. But this day in age everything is going up except wages and new job sources. smh…

    • Lisa Hartford says:

      Then stop putting Neo Conservatives (from both sides of the aisle) into office. You are smart enough not to buy AMC’s baloney but you can’t figure out that it is the Neo Cons who have destroyed this country particularly as jobs and money go. Why can’t you see this? Best to vote for Progressives or Greens if you want a better life. Neo Cons believe that you exist to support them and their lives. Progressives and Greens believe corporations exist to support our better life. PS Barack Obama is a Neo Con. So is Hillary Clinton. And so are all of the Republican candidates. Sanders and Stein (Green Party) are not.

  6. Nick says:

    They want over $2.25 per subscriber. RIP. cable it was nice when you were around. This is pathetic.

  7. Steve Napier says:

    I don’t watch Mac. I could care less if they black thier service.

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