Dish subs to lose 'Mad Men,' 'The Walking Dead' as it vows to drop channels

Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH), citing declining viewership numbers, said it's planning to drop all of AMC Networks' programming, including hit shows like Mad Men and The Walking Dead on the flagship AMC channel.

Dish said AMC, the Independent Film Channel, Sundance Channel and WE TV would drop from its line up at the end of June. The satellite TV provider said that the channels "overall have had significant declines in viewership," and said the high costs of the channels were also a factor in its decision.

But AMC's hit shows, like Mad Men, The Waking Dead and Breaking Bad, are in the midst of a ratings bump that has them deliver some of the "strongest ratings performances" of all cable networks, one analyst told The Wall Street Journal.

Dish also cited the availability of those hit shows on Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iTunes and through Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN).

Meanwhile, in a press release, AMC contends that Dish's decision to drop the channels was likely based more on a recent court ruling against the operator, part of ongoing litigation between the two that dates back to 2008, when VOOM HD (an indirect subsidiary of AMC Networks) sued Dish Network for breach of contract.

Within days of the ruling, AMC said, Dish informed AMC of its intention to drop the channels.

"AMC Networks has some of the most acclaimed programming on television, with shows like Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad," the company wrote in its release. "In fact, AMC's The Walking Dead is the number one scripted drama with Dish subscribers."

Dish denied the events were related, calling the AMC statements "self-serving," and claiming it "distorts the facts of the current situation and incorrectly attempts to tie together two separate issues."

"Dish's contract with AMC Networks was nearing its end, and we decided not to renew at the end of June," Dish said. "Our decision to drop AMC Networks' channels is solely dependent on their high renewal cost when compared to their low viewership. Dish will make alternative high-value channels available to our customers as replacements."

For more:
- see this Hollywood Reporter article
- see this release

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