What Would Don Draper Say? AMC Offers Commercial-Free Version

By Joe Flint Features Dow Jones Newswires

For fans of "The Walking Dead" who are tired of commercials interrupting zombies chomping on human flesh, AMC has launched an advertising-free version of its channel for the low, low price of $4.99 a month.

Continue Reading Below

The new service, dubbed AMC Premiere, will be available starting Thursday as an add-on for Comcast Corp. cable subscribers. The channel is primarily an on-demand service; however, subscribers also will be able to watch new episodes of AMC shows when they debut on the linear channel without commercials.

Charlie Collier, president of AMC, said the new service comes after speaking to customers who have "a desire to go deeper and have a different viewing experience."

Besides being able to catch up on current seasons of AMC's original series and watch new episodes as they debut, there will also be exclusive content on AMC Premiere as well as movies from the network's library.

While $4.99 a month just to avoid commercials may sound steep, Matt Strauss, Comcast's executive vice president and general manager of video and entertainment services, notes that it's a better deal than buying episodes of shows on an individual basis, which can run $3 an episode.

"There's always a segment of viewers willing to part with money for a more premium experience," Mr. Strauss said. Comcast is also talking with other networks about creating similar platforms, he said.

Continue Reading Below

Such an arrangement is one way for Comcast to fight back against cord-cutting and encourage cable subscribers to stick around and not defect to an ad-free online video service. For AMC parent company AMC Networks Inc., doubling-down with a traditional cable distributor helps protect its lucrative affiliate fees, at a time when the company's advertising revenue fell 6.2% in the first quarter.

AMC's Mr. Collier didn't rule out offering full seasons of current shows at once a la Netflix on AMC Premiere down the road. "We want this platform to evolve to meet consumer needs," he said.

The service could also serve as a test to an eventual direct-to-consumer offering by AMC, he said, although there are no such plans at the moment.

Unfortunately for consumers who subscribe to AMC Premiere, there isn't a refund for the AMC standard channel.

Write to Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 29, 2017 09:14 ET (13:14 GMT)