Dropped By Dish, AMC Pulls An Anti-Viacom: Offers Breaking Bad Premiere Free To Dish Subscribers
from the that's-how-it's-done dept
Yesterday, we wrote about Viacom's reactionary strategy of holding its fans hostage by shutting down online streams of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report after DirecTV advised its customers (who just lost access to Viacom shows) to watch them online. It was a childish move that punished a whole lot of fans (not only DirecTV users) just to gain leverage in a contract dispute, and a textbook example of how big media's shortsightedness drives people to piracy. Nobody was impressed.
So today it's interesting to hear about a network taking the exact opposite tack. AMC, home of a bunch of popular shows cast somewhat in the HBO mold, was recently dropped from the basic package for Dish satellite subscribers. AMC says that unlike the Viacom/DirecTV situation, they were not asking for more money and this was not a negotiation issue, but rather Dish trying to "gain leverage in an unrelated lawsuit."
So what is AMC's response? Well, the much-anticipated fifth-season premier of Breaking Bad, one of their flagship shows, is airing on Sunday—and they've decided to set up a special online stream just for Dish subscribers, so they can watch it for free. Meanwhile, they point out that virtually every other satellite and cable provider includes AMC in its basic package, and that several are now offering special sale prices for customers switching from Dish. They even have a toll-free line at 1-855-2DROP-DISH offering more information. For Dish, this is what you call a "PR nightmare".
But -- and here's where it gets even more interesting -- Dish claims they dropped AMC because the company insists they also carry some other less-popular networks bundled with it. That's why DirecTV says it dropped Viacom, too. It's a bit of an our-word-against-theirs situation as to the real cause of the conflict, and it's likely that neither company is entirely blameless. But AMC's first move was to go straight to the fans with a special offer to give them what they want. Viacom's first move was to... petulantly punish not only the fans involved in the dispute, but all of their fans.
Both Dish and DirecTV are experiencing backlash—even though some people support DirecTV in the bigger picture, most fans are just reacting to their favorite shows suddenly disappearing, and understandably getting annoyed with their service provider. But while AMC has leveraged the situation as a way to get good PR by offering fans something special, Viacom managed to extract its own dose of negative backlash by further depriving them.
Much like the MPAA, it seems Viacom needs a lesson in communications.