Verizon Offering Free 12 Months to AMC+ Streaming Service

Verizon’s portfolio of free subscription streaming services offered to new phone, wireless and broadband subs has a new member. Starting Aug. 12, new Fios customers at all speeds, or customers with select Verizon Unlimited plans, can receive up to 12 months of AMC+, the platform featuring content from AMC Network, Shudder, Sundance Now, IFC Films Unlimited, including early access to episodes of the final season of “The Walking Dead,” beginning Aug. 15.

Verizon made headlines in 2019 when it offered its customers free 12 months to upstart streaming service Disney+, a strategy that helped the Disney SVOD jumpstart subscription. The promotion also includes Hulu and ESPN+. Separately, Verizon offers six free months access to Apple TV+.

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“Enhancing the way that fans enjoy their beloved content is at the center of what we do at Verizon,” said Erin McPherson, head of content partnerships at Verizon.

Eligible Verizon customers will be able to stream the final season of “The Walking Dead” premiere one week before it appears on television.

“Over the last year, we have seen tremendous interest in AMC+ from consumers and our distribution partners, and the launch of this new partnership with Verizon couldn’t be better timed,” said Josh Reader, president of distribution and development for AMC Networks.

AMC programming includes “Mad Men,” “Rectify,” “Orphan Black,” “Portlandia,” “Hell on Wheels,” “NOS4A2,” among many others. The service also offers a growing slate of original and exclusive series, including “Gangs of London,” “The North Water,” “The Beast Must Die,” “The Salisbury Poisonings,” “Cold Courage,” “Spy City,” “Too Close” and the forthcoming drama “Kin.”

When activating a new line, a new or existing Verizon customer who purchases a 5G phone with a device payment plan on a Play More, Do More, or Get More Unlimited plan gets 12 months of AMC+. Existing customers on Verizon Unlimited plans get six months of free streaming.

When all promotional periods end, subscribers are automatically rolled over into $8.99 monthly subscription plan unless deactivated by the customer.

New Verizon Fios customers who sign up for one of the new Mix & Match on Fios home Internet plans — with no data caps and no annual contracts — get 12 months of AMC+.

Customers who sign up for Fios Gigabit may also be eligible for other perks of Fios, including a free Samsung Chromebook, Verizon Whole-Home Wi-Fi for getting better coverage in more areas of the home, and 2TB of Verizon Cloud storage.

AMC Networks’ $200 Million ‘Walking Dead’ Settlement Includes Future Streaming Rev-Sharing

AMC Networks’ $200 million settlement announced July 16 with former “The Walking Dead” showrunner Frank Darabont and talent agency Creative Artists Agency includes future streaming video revenue-sharing for the series and spin-off show, “Fear the Walking Dead.”

The agreement enables AMC to avoid a scheduled April 4, 2022, trial date that had consolidated two separate breach of contract lawsuits filed by Darabont and CAA against AMC.

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“With regard to the ‘settlement payment,’ the company has taken a charge of approximately $143 million in the quarter ended June 30, in consideration for the extinguishment of plaintiffs’ rights to any compensation in connection with ‘The Walking Dead’ and any related programs and the dismissal of the actions with prejudice, which amount is net of approximately $57 million of ordinary course accrued participations,” AMC disclosed in the regulatory filing.

AMC updated its fiscal 2021 guidance, contending the settlement would effectively negate any free cash flow in the fiscal year.

Darabont adapted “The Walking Dead” for AMC in 2010 based on the comic book series penned by Robert Kirkman. Darabont was fired early in the second season of the burgeoning hit due to conflicts with AMC.

“Walking Dead” would go on to become one of the biggest shows ever on television, DVD/Blu-ray Disc and Netflix, with the original series slated to end following the 11th season, which begins Aug. 22. Multiple spin-off shows will continue thereafter.

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 10 Due on Disc July 20

Lionsgate will release The Walking Dead: The Complete Tenth Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD July 20.

The collection includes all 22 episodes from the extended 10th season, in which the collected communities prepare for war against the brutal Whisperers. Additional episodes include the flashback episode “Here’s Negan,” which presents the origin story of the fan-favorite character played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

The season also sees the departure of Michonne, played by Danai Gurira, and the return of Maggie, played by Lauren Cohan.

Other cast members include Norman Reedus, Christian Serratos, Samantha Morton, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Cooper Andrews and Khary Payton.

Blu-ray and DVD extras include audio commentaries and an “In Memoriam” featurette. The Blu-ray will also include digital copies of the episodes.

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‘The Walking Dead’ Catalog Coming to Star on Disney+

Disney has revealed that all 10 seasons of the popular zombie series “The Walking Dead” will begin streaming July 2 via Star+ on the Disney+ platform in the U.K. The 11th and final season of “Walking Dead,” which is based on comic books by Robert Kirkman and filmed outside Atlanta, is slated to launch in the U.K. Aug. 23.

In the U.S., “Walking Dead” airs on AMC Networks, while Netflix exclusively streams the series. Spin-off shows include “Fear the Walking Dead” and “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” and the upcoming anthology “Tales of the Walking Dead.” There is also a slate of “Walking Dead” feature films in the works.

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Star+ was launched by Disney on Feb. 23 in Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore with the aim of offering mature, adult-oriented content from ABC Signature, 20th Television, FX, Freeform, 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Caravan Pictures to Disney+ subscribers. Additional territory launches are coming, including a separate standalone service in Latin America.

In the U.S., Disney distributes mature content, i.e. FX and FXX content, through its Hulu streaming platform — preferring to limit Disney+ content to family fare and branded PG movies.

 

Season One of ‘Walking Dead’ Spinoff ‘World Beyond’ Arrives on Disc June 15

RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, will release The Walking Dead: World Beyond — Season One on Blu-ray Disc and DVD June 15.

The three-disc sets will include all 10 episodes from the first season of “The Walking Dead” spinoff that focuses on a group of teenagers who represent the first generation to grow up in the apocalypse.

A decade into the fall of civilization, sisters Hope (Alexa Mansour) and Iris Bennett (Aliyah Royale) have grown up inside the walls of one of the few remaining first-world communities. When the sisters receive a message that their father might be in a danger at a research facility 1,000 miles away, they defy their community’s rules and enlist their friends Elton (Nicolas Cantu) and Silas (Hal Cumpston)to embark on a cross-country quest to save him. Leaving their sheltered upbringing behind, these teenagers learn how to fight threats both living and dead as they travel through a beautiful but decaying and dangerous world.

The cast also includes Nico Tortorella, Annet Mahendru and Julia Ormond. The first season originally aired on AMC in 2020.

Extras on the Blu-ray and DVD include the featurettes “A Look at the Series,” “Meet the Characters” and “The Making of Season 1.”

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IMDb TV Gets ‘The Walking Dead Universe Experience’

AMC Networks’ record-breaking zombie series “The Walking Dead” has been given expanded pay-TV life via an 11th season (30 episodes) split over two years through 2022. And monetization of past episodes and the brand via third-party over-the-top video distribution is becoming its own expanding ecosystem.

AMC Sept. 11 announced a deal with Amazon-owned IMDb TV, the ad-supported “Free Television” video-on-demand platform, for “The Walking Dead Universe Experience,” among six content channels joining the platform. The “Experience” will offer IMDb TV viewers exclusive access to select “Walking Dead” episodes, in addition to related series such as “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Ride With Norman Reedus,” and bonus material, cast interviews and related digital content.

IMDb TV is also getting AMC: Presents (movies and TV shows), Absolute Reality by WE tv, Rush by AMC (thrillers, action, and horror content), IFC Films Picks, and Slightly Off by IFC. The addition of AMC Networks bring to 20, the number of separate content channels available “live” (not VOD) via IMDb TV.

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“This comprehensive, tailored content solution for IMDb makes the great shows and franchises AMC Networks is known for available to even more fans and viewers and expands our programming footprint in a compelling way on an exciting and emerging platform,” Kim Kelleher, president of advertising sales and partnerships for AMC Networks, said in a statement.

The series has also given life to an expanding lucrative content ecosystem that currently includes “Talking Dead”; spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead,” returning for its sixth season on Oct. 11; “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” a new series about the first generation raised in the apocalypse, debuting Oct. 4; a feature film being produced by Universal Pictures, Skybound and AMC, focused on the Rick Grimes character played by Andrew Lincoln; a new spinoff planned for 2023 focused on the popular Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) characters; and the new “Tales of the Walking Dead” episodic anthology series.

“The Walking Dead” premiered on Halloween night in 2010 as the No. 1 cable series launch of all time, later surpassed by other AMC series “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” spin-off “Better Call Saul” and “Into the Badlands,” and is the most-watched series in cable history. It was also the first cable series to become the No. 1 show in all of television, including broadcast, a rank it held for five consecutive years. In its current 10th season, “The Walking Dead” remains the No. 1 series on basic cable for the 11th consecutive year. All of the top 73 cable entertainment telecasts for the past decade have been airings of “The Walking Dead.”

RLJ Entertainment Narrows Q1 Loss, Ups Revenue

AMC Networks subsidiary RLJ Entertainment May 1 recorded first-quarter (ended March 31) operating loss of $3 million, which was 51% less than the $6.1 million net loss from the previous-year period when the home entertainment distributor was a separate company. Revenue increased 19% to $22 million from $18.5 million last year.

Last Halloween, AMC acquired majority ownership of RLJE, making Robert L. Johnson’s namesake company a privately-owned subsidiary of AMC, with a 17% minority stake held by Johnson.

In addition to packaged media and digital distribution, AMC sought RLJE’s over-the-top video services — Acorn TV and Urban Movie Channel, which collectively have almost 1 million subscribers, and majority interest in Agatha Christie Limited.

Agatha Christie Limited generated operating income of $2 million.

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AMC’s other branded OTT ventures include Sundance Now and Shudder, which together with RLJE, AMC Networks International, IFC Films and production services company Levity Entertainment Group, generated an operating loss of $14 million on revenue of $171 million.

That compared to an operating loss of $17 million on revenue of $111.7 million during the previous-year period.

Overall, the network behind “The Walking Dead” and “Killing Eve,” reported net income of $143 million on revenue of $784 million. That compared to income of $157 million and revenue of $741 million last year.

“With our focused, well-priced and desirable collection of [business] assets, we occupy a differentiated space in the media landscape,” CEO Josh Sapan said in a statement.

AMC recently greenlit a third “Walking Dead” original series. “Fear the Walking Dead,” just began its fifth season. Launch date for 10th season of ‘The Walking Dead” hasn’t been announced.

RLJ Entertainment Posts $5 Million Q4 Operating Loss

AMC Networks subsidiary RLJ Entertainment posted a fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) operating loss of $5 million on revenue of $28 million. The home entertainment unit generated net income of $3.8 million on revenue of $32.7 million during the previous-year period as a separate publicly traded company.

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AMC acquired controlling interest in RLJE from BET founder Robert L. Johnson last October for $59 million – largely for its Acorn TV SVOD service and majority stake in Agatha Christie Limited. AMC reported adjusted operating income $3 million for Agatha Christie Limited during the quarter.

Indeed, Amazon Prime Video and BBC One in the United Kingdom adapted Agatha Christie’s “The ABC Murders” into an eponymous mini-series  currently streaming and starring John Malkovich as detective Hercule Poirot.

AMC said its “international and other” business segment — which includes RLJE – increased fourth quarter revenue 48.6% to $188 million, while upping operating loss $29 million to $48 million. Adjusted operating income increased 43.9% to $9 million, all compared to the prior-year period.

“The strength of our balance sheet allows us to continue to pursue smart and strategic investments that are changing our business, including our acquisition last year of RLJ Entertainment, which is meaningfully advancing our direct-to-consumer interests, a key priority as we continue to diversify our revenue and grow our business,” Josh Sapan, CEO of AMC Networks, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, AMC, which airs three of the top six dramas on ad-supported cable – “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” and “Better Call Saul” – reported Q4 net income of $71.8 million on revenue of $773 million. That compared to income of $145.5 million on revenue of $727 million last year.

For the fiscal year, AMC generated income of $446 million on revenue of nearly $3 billion, which compared to income of $471 million and revenue of $2.8 billion in 2017.

‘La Casa De Papel’ Tops Digital Originals Chart, Parrot Analytics Says

The Spanish limited series “Money Heist” (“La Casa De Papel”) vaulted to the No. 1 spot on the digital originals chart for the week ended April 14, a week after it debuted at No. 3.

The crime heist drama posted a 21% spike in popularity, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

Netflix bought global distribution rights to the series earlier this year and re-edited the original run of nine episodes into 15 different untitled episodes, released as two seasons. Netflix released the second season on April 6 with a runtime of 40 to 50 minutes instead of the original 70 minutes per episode.

“Stranger Things,” also a Netflix series, slipped to No. 2 on the top 10 digital originals chart, with demand dropping 17.9%.

A third Netflix digital original, “On My Block,” slipped to No. 3 as demand fell a modest 5.4%. One week earlier, the coming-of-age series – which debuted on Netflix on March 16 – shot up to No. 2 from No. 5, with a 12.5% demand increase.

New to the digital originals chart is “Trailer Park Boys,” which debuted at No. 8, on the heels of a new season bowing on Netflix on March 30.

Meanwhile, on the overall TV series chart, “Spongebob Squarepants” and “The Walking Dead” remain at No. 1 and No. 2 for the third consecutive week. Demand for “Spongebob” was only down a fraction of 1%, but demand for “The Walking Dead” was off 7.5%.

Moving up to No. 3 on the overall TV series chart was “American Idol,” with demand up 7.7%. A week before, “American Idol” posted an 8.4% increase in demand and moved up the chart to No. 4 from No. 5.

New to the top 10 the week ended April 14 was NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” bowing at No. 4. The series posted the highest bump in demand from the prior week, 63%. It’s prior-week ranking was No. 17.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

 

‘Stranger Things’ the Week’s Top Digital Original, But Demand for ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Soars

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” took the No. 1 spot on the top 10 digital originals chart for the week ended March 31, bumping Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” to No. 2 after three weeks in the top position, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

Digital original hits such as “Stranger Things,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Orange is the New Black” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” all registered an increase in demand from the prior week, Parrot data shows.

“13 Reasons Why” rose to No. 3 from No. 7 the prior week and No. 9 the week before, while “Orange is the New Black” slipped to No. 7 from No. 4, despite a modest 2.6% increase in demand.

Netflix also saw two new entries in the top five. “Santa Clarita Diet” moved up to No. on the digital originals chart from No. 9 the previous week, while “On My Block” jumped to No. 5 from No. 9. Both shows saw demand rise by about 30% from the prior week.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been largely absent from the top 10 as it finished its sophomore season. But with new episodes returning April 25, the dystopian series saw its demand spike 86% – fueled, no doubt, by the March 28 release of a season three trailer. “The Handmaid’s Tale” debuted on the chart at No. 10.

On the overall TV series chart, “Spongebob Squarepants” returned to No. 1 after ceding the top spot last week to AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” now at No. 2.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.