Rogers and AMC Networks End Carriage Dispute With Multi-Year Canadian Deal

The Walking Dead 311 Episodic Rick Michonne Carl - H 2013
Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead 311 Episodic Rick Michonne Carl - H 2013

The agreement means the U.S. won't blackout "The Walking Dead," "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" for Canadian cable subscribers, as earlier threatened.

TORONTO – As carriage disputes go, AMC Networks making headlines by threatening Rogers Communications with a blackout of The Walking Dead and Mad Men was a mere tempest in a teapot.

But for the Canadian industry, AMC going public to possibly deprive cable subscribers of popular American shows was a show-stopper.

So Rogers customers could breathe a sigh of relief Friday when AMC unveiled a new multi-year carriage deal with Canada’s largest cable and wireless phone provider.

“We are very pleased to have reached a new long-term agreement with Rogers for AMC that recognizes the value and popularity of AMC and its award-winning shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, the No. 1 drama series on cable television,” said Bob Broussard, president of distribution for AMC, in a statement Friday.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Rogers and continuing to serve their customers with AMC's high-quality programming,” he added.

There wasn’t so much bonhomie last week when AMC launched the web page to warn Rogers TV subscribers they could miss new episodes of popular series if both sides failed to agree terms on a new distribution deal.

The U.S. channel going public for leverage in its contract renewal talks took the Canadian industry by surprise.

Well before The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad became popular series for AMC, Rogers had ushered the U.S. channel into Canada and helped build a following among local viewers.

Then, in September 2012, Rogers’ headquarters in Toronto hosted AMC Networks president and CEO Josh Sapan during an appearance at a CTAM Canada gathering.

That was before their carriage renewal talks went south, with AMC urging Rogers subscribers to email or call the Canadian media group to keep viewing the popular U.S. shows.

Rogers replied by insisting it was committed to reaching a deal, even if it was left exposed should it bow to pressure from AMC on pricing and risk rival U.S. channels lining up for their own gains.

Terms of the new deal were not disclosed.

But AMC will continue to offer Rogers digital cable customers new seasons of its popular series.

Those AMC programs will also be viewed in the HD format in time for the season finale of The Walking Dead later this month.

“We’re always focused on delivering the best content across all screens while keeping prices down,” said David Purdy, senior vp of content at Rogers in his own statement.