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Shove it, HBO: AMC refuses to further delay sending shows to Netflix

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Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Under pressure from industry executives and other services looking to stop the cord-cutting trend, AMC has announced it won’t be changing its time frame to send its series to streaming sites.

AMC CEO Josh Sapan said that he believes the standard of waiting a year to port seasons of AMC’s popular TV series to streaming video services like Amazon Prime and Netflix is “appropriate,” according to a recent conference call with investors and analysts.

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This comes after recent remarks made by Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes, who says that his company — which owns HBO, among multiple other media outlets — might delay the sharing of certain TV shows to streaming video on demand services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon for years after the shows originally hit traditional airwaves and Time Warner-owned streaming options.

In a recent interview with Multichannel, Bewkes said, “Due to ongoing shifts in consumer behavior, we think it’s important to provide even more on-demand content as part of our network offering. As a result, we’re evaluating whether to retain our rights for a longer period of time and, forego or delay certain content licensing. This would effectively push SVOD window for content on our networks to a multiyear period,  more consistent with traditional syndication.”

In other words, the move would essentially shift content providers backward, abandoning the current streaming status quo by holding shows back from third-party streamers like the old days of re-run syndication. That could put Netflix and its contemporaries in a precarious position, with networks and content providers choosing to offer their most popular series only from their own streaming platforms.

But AMC sees things differently. Many of the network’s most popular shows, including Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Mad Men were boosted by their inclusion on services like Netflix — with viewers getting hooked online, then turning to the network for live-to-air shows once they had watched the back catalog of older seasons. With a winning formula that has made AMC one of the most popular cable channels on the block, Sapan doesn’t want to change a thing.

“AMC has been fairly consistent in our thinking since we engaged in SVOD exploitation,” Sapan said, going on to say, “Our view today is our approach was a measured one and an appropriate one.”

As more and more TV networks see streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon as direct competitors rather than simply streaming partners, the strategy for just how these companies share with streaming services is sure to be continuously put under the microscope by all sides involved. But AMC’s policy on streaming seems to take a fairly simple view: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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