Are DirecTV Customers Going to Lose AMC in the Middle of The Walking Dead?

Show rates higher than football

Ah, November: The Christmas decorations are going up, flights home are getting expensive, and networks are going to war with cable providers. It's always an uphill battle with satellite and terrestrial system operators given how terribly they rate in customer service in the first place, and AMC is already playing hardball: the company is informing viewers that they're in danger of losing The Walking Dead in the middle of the seasonand DirecTV is telling viewers "We apologize for AMC Networks' needlessly attempting to frighten you." Both companies are doing this by using incredibly valuable ad time in the middle of the highest-rated show on television, so really, everyone loses.

But the PR game is AMC's to lose. The prospect of losing the show didn't go over well with viewers, obviously:

It probably won't help matters for DirecTV, either, that Walking Dead is now outdoing Sunday Night Football in Live+SD (same day) demo viewers, this time for a second week running. On Sunday night, it pulled in 9.6 million adults 18-49, giving the show a 7.6 rating, which is about what you'd get if you combined the demo averages of every new sitcom on broadcast. Maybe a little more, actually.

The deal between DirecTV and AMC expires at the end of the year, halfway through The Walking Dead. The network rarely blinks in carriage negotiations and usually gets its way, with the notable exception of a three-month blackout in 2012 that Dish Network appeared to use as leverage to get a lower settlement in a lawsuit in which it had been previously found guilty of destroying evidence.

This new conflict seems born pretty much exclusively of pricing troubles, although there's a potential legal aspect to this standoff, too. AMC issued a statement on Monday morning declaring that "DirecTV is in violation of our current agreement, and it has dropped AMC in Latin America. We hope to finalize a new agreement quickly but in the meantime," the spokesperson continued, "we think it is important to alert DirecTV customers who care about The Walking Dead that their ability to watch the show on DirecTV is at risk."