If you’re a Dish Network subscriber and you wanted to catch up on Mad Men or, say, The Killing, then you might be faced with a surprise when you try to tune in next Sunday: The channel won’t be where it used to be. Neither will sibling networks Sundance Channel, IFC and WEtv. They’ve not been removed entirely – although that might happen soon enough – just moved slightly… all the way to channels 9000 and above. No, really; AMC is now found on channel 9609.
The (literal) move comes following the four channels broadcasting ads on Sunday prompting Dish subscribers to complain to their carrier about plans to drop the channels entirely when the current contract between Dish and AMC expires later this month. AMC has even created a website, Keep AMC Networks, to make it easier for fans to email or call Dish to express their displeasure with the move, eagerly reminding them that the loss will mean no more Mad Man, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Portlandia or… Kendra on Top and Braxton Family Values. Okay, maybe the loss of those last two wouldn’t be such a big deal, but still.
According to Dish, however, their intention to drop the AMC networks is simply a matter of value for money; the carrier claims that, despite AMC’s cult hits, the networks are too expensive for the limited number of viewers that they draw. That may be a deceptive and overly simplistic argument, especially considering the ongoing lawsuit between Dish and AMC subsidiary company VOOM HD, in which Dish faces the possibility of $2.5 billion in costs over alleged improper termination of a contract.
Certainly, AMC believes the lawsuit is part of Dish’s reasoning. In a statement, the company said that “It is unfortunate that, in retaliation for an unrelated lawsuit, Dish is punishing its customers by threatening to drop the AMC Networks, and with this sudden, dramatic change in channel position, making it extremely difficult for their customers to find and watch some of the most popular and acclaimed shows on television.”
Dish is keeping relatively quiet about the move as yet, which could either be construed as keeping its head down after such a petty move, or being distracted by the lawsuits it’s currently facing from ABC, Fox, CBS and NBC over its AutoHop DVR feature. If lawsuits were brawls from old school cartoons, this would be the time for Dish to duck, and let Voom and AMC jump all over the broadcast networks, buying them time to crawl out the open door without anyone realizing.