AMC Prepping Streaming Subscription Service Without Ads, But You Would Still Need to Have Pay TV (Report)

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Gene Page/AMC

Apparently, AMC Networks believes somebody out there is willing to pay as much as $7 per month to watch “The Walking Dead” and other programming from its flagship AMC channel streamed to digital screens to avoid watching ads — on top of paying for cable or satellite service.

According to a Reuters report, the cabler is planning to launch a service costing $4.99-$6.99 a month that will strip out advertising. However, the service would not be aimed at cord-cutters: It would be available only to current pay-TV subscribers. Additional content like behind-the-scenes extras and digital-only series may also be made available through the service, a source explained, to cater to superfans of “Walking Dead” and other original series.

That’s a fundamentally different tack to the over-the-top space than the one adopted by the likes of HBO, Showtime and CBS, each of which has launched direct-to-consumer subscription services that don’t require a baseline pay-TV package. AMC is plotting the unusual move because it doesn’t want to undermine cable, satellite and telco TV distributors by cutting them out of the equation, but the pay-TV requirement obviously would make such a streaming service less appealing than a standalone service.

AMC declined to comment.

Besides “Walking Dead,” which has consistently been among the top-rated shows on TV, other AMC shows include “Better Call Saul” (a prequel to “Breaking Bad”), “Into the Badlands,” “Humans” and “Preacher.”

Separately, AMC Networks has made moves across the video-streaming landscape. In 2015, it debuted Shudder, a horror-specific streaming service that costs $4.99 per month (or $49.99 per year). (Shudder was initially powered by Korean subscription VOD service DramaFever, which was acquired by Warner Bros. earlier in 2016.) AMC Networks also operates Sundance Now, an SVOD service dedicated to documentaries and indie films and series.

In addition, AMC Networks has a range of investments in other digital-video players, including in Funny Or Die, DanceOn, RLJ Entertainment and BritBox.