Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dish Network REALLY Does Not Want to Keep Its Customers

As many of you already know, Dish Network dropped the AMC Networks' channels (including the popular channel AMC, home of Mad Men and Breaking Bad) on 1 July 2012 with the claim that the ratings were too low for the price AMC Networks was asking for their channels. AMC in turn charged that Dish Network actually dropped its channels because of an unrelated lawsuit that was brought against Dish Network by Voom Networks, a property of AMC Networks' former parent company Rainbow Media Holdings LLC (a lawsuit which some analysts are now urging Dish Network to settle). Regardless, from social media it has become clear that many Dish Network customers want at least AMC, if not the other AMC Networks' channels back, and are unhappy about missing some of their favourite shows (Dish Network's Facebook page is still filled with customers stating that they want AMC back). Sadly, during all of this Dish Network's reaction to their customers has at times left a lot to be desired.

To wit, Dish Network posted on their Facebook page the following message to its customers,”DISH understands that ‘The Walking Dead’ on AMC is a very popular series. To show appreciation, customers will be provided ‘Tales of the Apocalypse,’ a free scary movie fest every day in the month of October. Starting at 8 PM ET on Blockbuster Studio, channel 102, ‘Walking Dead’ fans can enjoy these horror/science-fiction commercial free movies. Additional On Demand scary movies will also be available for only 10 cents each. Visit for full details as well as the full list of scary movies.”movies.”

Looking at the schedule, most of these movies one could easily watch on Amazon or Netflix or even rent at one's local video store (if there is still one in his or her community). That is, if one wants to watch them. While they are showing a few very good films and a few classics (the "Living Dead" movies, The Crow, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Omega Man, Re-Animator), it seems like most of the movies are absolute losers. Circuitry Man? Redneck Zombies? Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill? That's Dish Network's idea of substitutes for an Emmy winning horror series with a very faithful following? Speaking as a fan of horror movies from the silent era to the present and a fan of The Walking Dead, I would be downright insulted if a I were a Dish Network customer.

Quite frankly, I can't help but see this as a very feeble attempt on Dish Network's part to appease those customers who are angry at having lost AMC. And those customers don't seem to be few in number. As I said earlier, on Dish Network's Facebook page, there are a number of posts from customers still angry at losing AMC (in fact, there are so many one can spend several minutes scrolling through them). A search on Twitter turns up a good number of people angry at Dish Network for dropping AMC as well. Indeed, some are angry enough at Dish Network for dropping AMC that tomorrow Walking Dead fans will descend on Washington D.C. dressed as the walking dead to protest Dish Network still not carrying AMC (see this Washington Post article if you don't believe me!).

Dish Network has claimed that the AMC Networks were not a good value for their customers, but it seems quite apparent that many customers disagree. Indeed, regardless of how low rated IFC or WE (two channels owned by AMC Networks) are, for the year 2011 AMC ranked #17 in the top 20 highest rated cable channels. That is very good given that there are literally hundreds of cable channels out there. What is more, even if IFC and WE are low rated, I suspect they are higher rated than some of the channels Dish Network carries on their most basic package. Daystar? Angel Two? DIY Network? I suspect these channels get ratings that make IFC and WE look like ratings giants.

Of course, in the end it does not matter what ratings the various AMC Networks' channels get on Dish Network. The fact is that many Dish Network customers want AMC back and do not seem to mind if they have to pay more to get it either. That Dish Network has not yet resolved their dispute with AMC makes me think that they really don't care if they lose customers as a result of not carrying AMC. Granted, I don't think thousands of people would necessarily drop Dish Network if the dispute lasts much longer, but I think they will lose customers regardless. If the dispute lasts too long, they could lose enough customers to be hurt significantly. It seems to me, then, that it is in Dish Network's best interests to return AMC to their line up as soon as possible.

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