04 June 2012

Dish-AMC Fight Breaks Out on a New Front -- Channel Placement

According to deadline.com, last night Dish escalated its fight with AMC Networks by relocating several of its channels from their usual places on the dial to the television equivalent of Siberia. While distributors typically have the right to determine the placement of a channel on their lineups, the point is often negotiated and I don't recall ever seeing this sort of move used as a negotiating tactic.

  • AMC moved from channel 130 to channel 9609 (SD) and 9610 (HD)
  • WeTV moved from channel 128 to channel 9608
  • IFC moved from channel 393 to channel 9607

To complete the picture:

127 Oxygen
128 WeTV
129 Bravo
130 AMC
131 IFC
132 Turner Classic Movies
133 Fox Movie Channel

127 Oxygen
128 Style
129 Bravo
130 HDNet
131 Indieplex
132 Turner Classic Movies
133 Fox Movie Channel

As far as I can best tell, the AMC Networks channels' new neighbors are:

9414 V-me
9415 Free Speech TV
9417 EWTN
9607 IFC
9608 WeTV
9609 AMC
9610 AMC HD
9701 Racetrack Television Network

As a negotiating tactic for Dish, its got its advantages. Moving a channel to a less trafficked neighborhood should reduce live viewing and, to the extent that Dish's DVRs don't keep up with the change, it could reduce DVR viewing as well. The substitution of Style in WeTV's slot makes some sense; Style is now between its corporate siblings which cross-promote each other. Style is a nationally rated network with a defined niche. Content-wise Indieplex is somewhat similar to IFC, but with much less of a profile (for those unfamiliar, it has indie and art movies from the Starz and Encore libraries). Mark Cuban's HDNet is not at all like AMC, nor is it nearly as well known (and it will get less well known when it rebrands as AXS TV during the summer). Generally speaking, subscribers never like channel lineup changes -- change is disruptive and typically offers no apparent benefit, so Dish didn't do this to make its customers happier. As for Dish's explanation of the reason for the change "the new positions better reflect the channels' ratings", to be charitable, that seems most unlikely.

Added commentary on the matter, courtesy of Louis Peitzman of Jezebel: "In the ultimate dick move, Dish responded by relocating AMC to channel 9069 — right in the middle of a broadcast of The Killing." Nice turn of phrase.

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