- Cable network AMC has launched an ad-free experience for Comcast subscribers called AMC Premiere, according to The Wall Street Journal. The service charges subscribers an extra $4.99 per month to access commercial-less versions of AMC's original series.
- AMC Premiere is on-demand and allows subscribers to watch new episodes of the network's content at the same time they debut on linear TV. AMC anticipates original programming, including series like "The Walking Dead" and "Preacher," have enough value for viewers to pony up more.
- The Journal speculated that cable subscribers might actually find the cost a bit high for a single ad-free channel. However, Matt Strauss, Comcast's executive vice president and general manager of video and entertainment services, told the publication it's a better deal for users than buying shows on an individual basis. The concept came from customers seeking a "desire to go deeper" into content as well as have different viewing experience options, according to Charlie Collier, president of AMC.
Cable networks are experimenting with advertising experiences that break from the traditionally rigid TV mold as they grapple with the growing popularity of over-the-top services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which often work on an ad-free, subscription-based model. AMC is clearly hedging its bets on the draw of its marquee content with the new Comcast package, but some advertisers might be frustrated that the network is essentially trying to split up its primetime viewership onto a different service where commercials won't appear.
Given how AMC Premiere is being pitched, its ideal viewership is also presumably going to consist of AMC's most consistently engaged audience — a high-value segment for TV marketers.
Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting arm is enacting a similar strategy, reducing ad loads around top shelf programming on networks like TNT by up to 50%. The Hallmark Channel also recently announced it was dramatically cutting the volume of ads in its original primetime shows beginning next year.
The challenge for traditional TV networks of all stripes is keeping audiences away from cord-cutting and digital alternatives while also pleasing advertisers. Some advertisers are expressing frustrations that TV ad space continues to command high rates despite an overall decline in ratings, though major companies including P&G are putting more stock in the channel, as it's sometimes viewed as more dependable than something like digital.