All seven seasons, 92 episodes of the iconic drama will be available to stream for free on the platform starting July 15. Amazon has also acquired the international rights to the series from producer Lionsgate Television, and will begin streaming it on Amazon Prime Video around the world later this week, according to sources.
The rights have been packaged in what sources describe as a “complex, bumper deal” which sees AMC, the network which originally aired the show between 2007 and 2015, win the linear rights, and Starzplay (Lionsgate’s streamer) take a portion of the streaming pie for its European and Latin American footprint.
In other “Mad Men” news, Variety has learned from sources that the season 3 episode “My Old Kentucky Home,” in which Roger Sterling (a central character played by John Slattery) appears in blackface at a party and sings to his wife, will have a title card in front of it to “provide context for the blackface scene.” The card will appear before the episode on all platforms.
Here is what the title card will say: This episode contains disturbing images related to race in America. One of the characters is shown in blackface as part of an episode that shows how commonplace racism was in America in 1963. In its reliance on historical authenticity, the series producers are committed to exposing the injustices and inequities within our society that continue to this day so we can examine even the most painful parts of our history in order to reflect on who we are today and who we want to become. We are therefore presenting the original episode in its entirety.
The decision appears to be similar to that taken by HBO Max to have an introductory disclaimer explaining that “Gone With the Wind” “denies the horrors of slavery.” Lionsgate TV is the latest studio to be forced to re-evaluate one of its tentpole shows for racial sensitivity, after multiple episodes of “30 Rock” were pulled from streaming and syndication at Tina Fey’s request, and episodes of “Scrubs,” “The Office,” and “Community” have all either been removed from circulation or edited due to characters appearing in blackface.
News of the “Mad Men” rights deal comes less than a month after the series departed its previous streaming home of Netflix, which paid studio Lionsgate Television around $1 million per episode for the rights back in 2011. Lionsgate had spent the past few months shopping the rights to the Emmy-littered show around, after Netflix passed on the option to extend its deal.
Created by Matthew Weiner and set in 1960s New York, the provocative drama follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising. The series is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever produced, winning 16 Emmys (including four drama series awards for each of its first four seasons) and five Golden Globes throughout its run.
It starred Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Vincent Kartheiser, Aaron Staton, Robert Morse and Kiernan Shipka, among many others.
“’Mad Men’ is an evergreen property whose appeal has continued to grow over the years, and we’re pleased to collaborate with a diverse alliance of exceptional partners to bring it to a global audience,” said Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s president of worldwide television and digital distribution. “This comprehensive and multifaceted agreement brings together partners from every part of the content ecosystem, and it allows a whole new generation of fans to enjoy one of the greatest television series ever made, whether they’re reuniting with the show as an old friend or discovering ‘Mad Men’ for the first time.”
According to sources, the AMC part of the deal will kick in in the fall, at which point the network will be able to exhibit all seasons and all episodes on a variety of platforms including its linear networks and SVOD services.
“‘Mad Men’ launched on AMC in 2007 and became the definition of ‘talked-about-television’ – and for our company began a period of distinction and impact that continues to this day. We are so pleased to bring ‘Mad Men’ home to AMC, and again be able to share these unforgettable characters and this nuanced and exceptional storytelling with fans, new and old, on a variety of platforms starting this fall,” said Ed Carroll, chief operating officer of AMC Networks, who was president of AMC when the series was greenlit.
Starzplay will carry the series in Europe, Latin America and Japan beginning Oct. 1.
“‘Mad Men’ is regarded as one of the greatest television series ever made, and its timeless storytelling, critical recognition and global fan base reflect the hallmarks of the programming that we’re proud to bring to Starzplay audiences across our footprint,” said Starz EVP of international networks Superna Kalle. “Come this fall, it will make a great addition to our bespoke slate of acclaimed original series, local programming and world-class acquisitions.”