AMC Plans Novel Move into Online TV

AMC Networks, which has vaulted into the first tier of TV programmers in recent years with shows such as “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” is preparing to break from the long-established cable television business model and launch several subscription video websites, according to two people who have been involved in the project.

The first site is expected to launch later this summer, one of these people said. Rather than try to compete head-on with Netflix, Hulu, HBO and other general-interest offerings, AMC’s video sites will each focus on a specialized category, with documentaries and horror expected to be two of the initial genres.

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Meanwhile, the traditional TV business model also is under attack by a slew of Web-based companies that offer video, from Google to Netflix, and people are increasingly watching that programming on TV screens because of hardware like Apple TV or Chromecast as well as new Web-connected TVs. Google’s YouTube has been planning a subscription video service aimed at kids, The Information reported in March. Moreover, AMC, like other TV content providers, has had financial conflicts with distributors such as satellite TV provider Dish. The move into Web video could help AMC both head off new rivals and improve its leverage in negotiations with cable companies and other carriers.

—Tom Dotan contributed to this story.


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AMC is expected to partner with Web video startup DramaFever—in which it holds a minority equity stake—to build the new sites.