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Friday, August 23, 2013

AMC Leading the Way in Cord-Cutting Distribution

This recent article in The Atlantic discusses the various distribution models cable network AMC has been taking and how well the strategies have been paying-off. In particular, it mentions AMC's deal with Netflix which allows for the streaming of all previous seasons' episodes of Breaking Bad. While traditional thinking holds that this should result in fewer viewers of live episodes, Breaking Bad's most recent season premiere drew the most viewers in the show's history.

Without coming right out and admitting it, the article reinforces what people like myself have been telling these industries for years now: The benefits of making content available online outweighs the drawbacks. The increased exposure draws new fans and makes old fans even more excited about new episodes.

I am not suggesting that content should be given away for free, although it does appear that doing so can actually improve sales performances for certain products; many of us are happy to pay a reasonable fee for the content we want. I intend to get into how I believe this can be done without turning into a splintered mess that will cost the end-user more money than cable/satellite TV but that discussion is for another post. For now, just know that many of us are willing to pay subscription fees for unlimited access to a number of channels/services and less for specific shows and features on a one-time basis. Offering free previews and purchasing incentives is a good way to attract new customers but, again, no one is suggesting you simply give away the store.

Breaking Bad has become a cultural phenomenon so it may be unfair to suggest it be held up as the model for how on-demand and streaming TV works in general, but it is definitely an example of how TV viewing tastes are changing. And AMC is home to several such shows, including The Walking Dead and Mad Men, suggesting that studios can succeed on streaming set-tops under a subscription model in which Netflix and Hulu+ currently dominate.

© C Harris Lynn, 2013

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