The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

AMC embraces streaming bundles, “skinny” packages on cable

Executives are pleased by the sudden interest in peer bundling and low-cost cable TV packages, which fit nicely with AMC's content and distribution strategies.

Executives are pleased by the sudden interest in peer bundling and low-cost cable TV packages, which fit nicely with AMC's content and distribution strategies.

AMC Networks is well-positioned to capitalize on the trend of traditional cable companies moving away from expensive sports- and news-inclusive packages toward “skinny” bundles that offer general entertainment and lifestyle programs, executives confirmed this month.

The company is also encouraged by some of its industry peers who have started bundling their offers with competitors, including a recently-announced Disney bundle that will bring together Disney Plus, Hulu and Warner Bros Discovery’s Max, the executives affirmed on a conference call with investors following AMC Networks’ quarterly earnings report.

AMC Networks was one of the first companies to embrace the idea of bundling its AMC Plus streaming service with a competitor, offering a package deal through Amazon’s Prime Video Channels marketplace where customers could select from a bundle that paired AMC Plus with Lionsgate’s Starz or Amazon’s own MGM Plus (formerly Epix). Earlier this year, AMC also agreed to bundle the ad-free version of AMC Plus with Netflix Premium, which is sold through Verizon’s Plus-Play marketplace powered in part by Bango.

AMC also sub-licensed some of its hit franchises like “The Walking Dead,” “Better Call Saul” and “Killing Eve” to Max last year as part of a promotional tie-in for AMC Plus, with executives claiming a positive response to the initiative — one that they would like to repeat, when the opportunity presents itself.

“We think, in an odd way, it is sort of recreating family cable and putting all the entertainment products together,” AMC Networks CEO Kristin Dolan said. “We…feel we sit quite nicely along the same lines with our content from AMC, AMC Plus and all of our other services. So, we expect to see more streaming bundles. We are more than happy…to participate in them, and we have quite a few conversations going on right now that we hope to share some insights on going forward.”

On the cable side, Dolan said AMC was pleased to see its traditional linear channels offered through skinny cable packages. Those packages tend to be priced lower than broadcast, sports and news-inclusive tiers, and cable distributors have increasingly leaned on lower-cost general entertainment, lifestyle and knowledge channels to beef up their content offerings without raising prices on consumers.

AMC fits into that strategy in two ways: Its entire traditional content slate consists of original scripted series, licensed films and off-network repeats of sitcoms and dramas like “Two and a Half Men” and “Law & Order.” One channel, We TV, also airs unscripted programs like “Mama June: From Not to Hot” and “Love After Lockup.” Programming aired across AMC’s traditional cable networks tends to command less in distribution-related fees, making them more-favorable to cable, satellite and streaming cable-like platforms (except Fubo).

AMC also repurposes some of its original series and licensed movies for more than a dozen free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels, including “AMC Thrillers,” “Allblk Gems” and “The Walking Dead Universe,” which some streaming cable-like services have started to distribute. Earlier this year, BBC News transitioned from a cable network to a FAST channel in the United States, part of a broader strategy by BBC Studios to reach more news consumers in the American market; AMC Networks is the exclusive distributor of BBC News in the United States.

FAST channels allow AMC Networks to bring more of its hit franchises, licensed movies — and, now, news programming from the BBC — to streaming audiences who are moving away from traditional pay TV, which allows AMC Networks to generate more advertising from streaming. At the same time, AMC’s linear television networks is a perfect fit for customers who either prefer cable or satellite for their TV needs, or who feel compelled to buy a pay TV package in order to watch broadcast, news and sports channels.

Last week, Dolan said AMC Networks was encouraged by efforts from some distribution partners to explore creative ways to keep customers engaged in the cable bundle, specifically calling out Comcast’s Now TV and Charter’s Spectrum TV Stream services. Both are targeted to Internet-only customers who want a small package of affordable entertainment and news channels. AMC Networks also offers its traditional and FAST channels to Philo, one of the original low-cost streaming pay TV products in the U.S.; AMC Networks is an investor-owner in Philo, but the service runs as an entirely separate business.

“As we continue to focus on building our brands, expanding our partner relationships and serving viewers, we’re very confident in our ability to weather the changes that are happening in what remains a dynamic operating environment,” Dolan affirmed.

While AMC Networks is still committed to its pay TV partners, it is clear that the focus of the business is on streaming, with dozens of FAST channels and seven direct-to-consumer streaming products under its belt. During the first quarter (Q1) of the year, AMC’s streaming business earned $145 million, or nearly one-quarter of all revenue during the first three months of the year. The figure was up 3 percent compared to Q1 2024.

By comparison, fees charged to cable and satellite platforms decreased during Q1, with AMC reporting a 14 percent decline in affiliate fee revenue on a year-over basis. AMC did not offer information as to the specific dollar amount it collected in affiliate fees during the period, but the dip in cable and satellite customers had an impact on AMC’s advertising revenue, which was down 13 percent to $142 million for Q1.

Overall revenue stood at $596 million, which includes money earned from content licensing. Revenue was down 17 percent compared to Q1 2024, though executives noted that $56 million in Q1 2023 revenue came from the licensing of the scripted sci-fi series “Silo” to Apple TV Plus. With Silo taken out of the equation, revenue was down 6 percent on a year-over basis, AMC said.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
Home » News » AMC embraces streaming bundles, “skinny” packages on cable