Cable network AMC today announced the launch of a new streaming service called AMC Premiere, which allows subscribers to pay $5 per month for access to commercial-free versions of its current TV shows, along with uncut movies, while also allowing customers to stream new TV episodes at the same time as they’re airing on television. There is, however, one big catch: AMC Premiere is not for cord cutters. At least, not yet.
Yep, that’s right. For now at least, you have to be a pay TV subscriber to use AMC Premiere — and specifically, a Comcast Xfinity TV customer.
That’s because launch of the new service is currently tied to a deal with Comcast, whose Xfinity TV customers will be able to stream the service via their set-top boxes as well as the Xfinity Stream website and mobile app. In the months ahead, authenticated Comcast customers will be able to watch via AMC.com and the AMC mobile apps, too.
The service represents a new way for a TV network to make money as cable TV audiences decline.
There really isn’t an offering like this in the streaming TV market. While there are over-the-top live TV services (e.g. Sling TV, Vue, DirecTV Now, etc.), ad-free on-demand streaming services (e.g. Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, HBO Now) and authenticated “TV Everywhere”-powered services, there isn’t one that’s designed as a live TV + on-demand + ad-free upgrade for cable TV customers.
Comcast is receiving a share of the subscription revenue that AMC Premiere generates as part of the deal’s terms. However, the agreement doesn’t prevent AMC from offering Premiere to other providers in the future, nor does it prevent the network from expanding to serve the cord-cutting market, if it chose.
We understand that AMC doesn’t currently have plans to go over-the-top with Premiere — it sees it more as an upgrade option for pay TV customers. But it does plan to bring it to more cable companies, satellite providers and telcos in the future. (Whether or not that means it will eventually cut deals with TV providers like Dish or AT&T, which now operate their own cord-cutter-friendly streaming services, is less clear.)
The idea with AMC Premiere, more broadly, is to target AMC’s super fans — those addicted to its top shows like “The Walking Dead” or “Into the Badlands,” for example. On Comcast today, 19 million customers watch the AMC channel — some sliver of those may pay the nominal fee to ditch the ads and watch on more devices.
As for AMC Premiere itself, it’s offering ad-free versions of all current-season AMC programming, including “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Preacher,” “Into the Badlands,” “The Son,” “Turn: Washington Spies,” “Talking Dead,” “Talking with Chris Hardwick,” “Talking Preacher” and “Comic Book Men.” (“Loaded” is the only current season show not available here.)
AMC Premiere is also augmented with a selection of uncut movies designed to complement its original series, plus extra content like uncut and bonus scenes from AMC shows, trailers and other pre-premiere content. AMC will continue to add more original content as the service evolves, like exclusive interviews with casts and showrunners, and other behind-the-scenes footage.
We understand the network is also considering producing content directly for this platform, though it hasn’t announced specific plans in that area as of yet.
AMC Premiere is available now for Xfinity TV customers via its new website, www.amcpremiere.com.