Now this is an interesting development in the battle for the great British couch potatoes. Determined to take its battle with the almighty Sky into new territory, BT announced a deal to exclusively bring American network AMC to the UK. In recent years, AMC has elevated itself from being a so-so US cable channel to an HBO-rivaling home of award-winning drama, with shows such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Mad Men and the biggest cable show of them all, The Walking Dead.
The new UK channel Awill launch in September with a particular ace up it's sleeve: the Walking Dead spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead.
The channel will also show long-running hits Breaking Bad and Mad Men. It's been announced that it is being made available for the first time in the UK to BT customers via its YouView pay-TV platform.
Delia Bushell, managing director of BT TV and BT Sport, said: “AMC has showcased some of the biggest and most celebrated series on US television in recent years, including Breaking Bad and Mad Men. We’re confident our viewers will enjoy AMC’s cinematic approach to storytelling and look forward to offering them an outstanding selection of TV series and films in the months ahead.”
The question for Virgin Media (and Sky) customers is will this be a BT YouView exclusive? According to BT's own announcement, AMC will be a "BT Exclusive". So, much like Sky doesn't wholesale the Sky Atlantic channel to other platforms, it looks like BT is planning to keep this just for its own customers. That's a game changer, and it looks likely to leave Virgin Media the premium-priced platform with neither HBO nor AMC content. Of course, existing show deals with FX and Netflix may mean we still get AMC content (I recall Better Call Saul being a Netflix exclusive for the commissioned two seasons and I think FX have Walking Dead for another series at least), but again Virgin Media are losing out by the company not playing in the content market itself.