AMC is trying to have its cake and eat it, too — extending its Netflix-like ad-free subscription tier with new content and features, while remaining a basic cable network.
For new drama series “The Terror,” the network will release all 10 episodes for AMC Premiere customers on Sunday, March 26, at 9 p.m. ET, the same time as the network TV premiere of episode 1. That’s a binge-viewing bonus patterned on Netflix’s standard release strategy, designed to drive up subscribers to the $4.99-per-month add-on.
For now, AMC Premiere is available only to Comcast’s Xfinity customers, who also must have a TV package that includes AMC. The cabler launched the premium VOD tier with Comcast last June, and recently inked a deal with Google’s YouTube TV to offer the option in the next few months.
The “Terror” binge-drop follows a similar launch strategy AMC used for original series “McMafia,” with the organized-crime drama’s Feb. 26 debut. The eight-episode simultaneous release of “McMafia,” together with the return of “The Walking Dead” season 8, set a one-week record for new customer signups for AMC Premiere, according to the company. However, it hasn’t revealed subscriber numbers for AMC Premiere.
“Providing entire seasons of shows like ‘McMafia’ and ‘The Terror’ is one of the ways we are continuing to evolve AMC Premiere and make it even more valuable for fans of AMC programming,” said Mac McKean, AMC’s head of innovation.
In addition to eliminating ads, AMC Premiere provides extras and bonus content for shows including “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” and “Preacher.”
While AMC Premiere may depress the linear network’s ratings — and associated ad revenue — presumably the $5 monthly fees offset that. Meanwhile, AMC continues to get carriage fees from operators on the TV side, and the hypothesis is that AMC Premiere bolsters fans’ overall engagement with its content including on traditional TV.
“The Terror,” inspired by a true story, centers on the Royal Navy’s voyage into uncharted territory in an attempt to discover the mythical Northwest Passage. The crew is pushed to the brink of extinction as they’re frozen, isolated and stuck at the end of the Earth — fighting not only against the harsh elements but also with each other.
“The Terror” stars Jared Harris (“The Crown,” “Mad Men”), Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”) and Ciarán Hinds (“Game of Thrones”).
Pictured above: Tobias Menzies (l.) as James Fitzjames and Ciarán Hinds as John Franklin in AMC’s “The Terror”