It’s official: AMC is the anti-Viacom.
That may seem like a strange claim to make; both, after all, are companies that own television channels and produce their own content, and both are companies that are currently embroiled in conflicts with cable carriers that have seen their channels being pulled from those carriers’ services. Despite those similarities, there is one important difference that separates the two corporations: In the wake of its channels’ disappearance, AMC is making it easier for viewers to stay up with their favorite programs online. The evidence? The premiere of the new season of Breaking Bad will be streamed online for those customers who can no longer view the channel via Dish Network.
AMC announced today that it will make a stream of “Live Free or Die,” the first episode of the fifth and final season of the critically-acclaimed series, available to Dish customers on Sunday. Starting tomorrow at 3pm Eastern, fans of the series need to visit Breaking Bad 4 Dish to register for the livestream, which will take place Sunday at 10pm Eastern, parallel to the episode’s premiere on the AMC television channel (In order to register, they need to authenticate their Dish subscription).
According to the announcement from AMC, this service is being provided to ensure that fans of the show aren’t unduly punished for the argument over carriage costs for AMC programming between the company and Dish. “AMC wants its loyal Dish viewers to experience the excitement of the Breaking Bad premiere at the same time as their friends and neighbors,” the statement from the company explains, adding that there’s an added benefit on offer for hardcore fans wanting to sign up: “We want to give Dish customers an extra week to switch providers so they can enjoy the rest of the season.”
The Breaking Bad 4 Dish site as is currently has a banner reading “Dish Has Dropped AMC But We’ve Got You Covered,” as well as offering a toll-free number for Dish fans to leave their current service (855-2-DROP-DISH) and a place to enter their zipcode so that AMC can suggest some other carriers available to switch to. Subtlety, clearly, is not the intent here – and note that the $175 fee Dish customers would incur by dropping their service over Breaking Bad‘s availability or lack thereof isn’t mentioned anywhere on the site.
Nonetheless, AMC’s decision at least offers fans a chance to watch their favorite show, as opposed to Viacom’s decision to pull its regular online-after-the-fact streams of content while it argues with DirecTV over its own cost and availability conflict. Whether or not AMC’s move will make a noticeable dent in Dish’s subscription base remains to be seen – but it’s definitely not hurt AMC’s standing with viewers in the process.