Will operators’ content trimming cost them subscribers?

by Parks Associates | Jun. 28, 2012

This week, AT&T joins the dispute with AMC Networks over carriage fees; already in the battle? Dish Network.

The U-verse TV service provider says it can’t/won’t/shouldn’t have to pay what it contends is an “excessive rate increase,” one that potentially will have to be passed on to viewers.

AT&T says AMC—the network that carries shows like “Mad Men” and “Walking Dead”--is asking it to pay nearly double what it thinks other operators are paying, and said the number of viewers tuning in to AMC, IFC and We tv was too small to warrant the rate the content provider wants to charge.

“We believe the rates they are seeking are disproportionate compared to the viewership we see across their channels,” it said in a statement.

Dish in May said it was cancelling its deal with AMC at the end of this month, too.

This isn’t the first battle between the two. A similar dispute two years ago almost caused U-verse subs to miss the season premiere of “Mad Men.” This time around, “Breaking Bad,” which airs its fifth season premiere July 15, is on the line.

AT&T says it “needs to take a stand” to keep costs down, even if it means customers lose some channels. We’ll find out how serious it is on June 30 when the current contract expires.

What will be interesting in the long run will be whether viewers react to this “content trimming,” especially content as popular as “Mad Men,” by further escalating their own cord trimming. Here’s the Variety story.

Tags: pay TV

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