DISH Network customers have had a rough July, losing the cable channel AMC and all the "Mad Men", "The Walking Dead", and "Breaking Bad" goodness that comes with it. With the "Breaking Bad" Season Five premiere looming this Sunday night, AMC is cranking out a solution for fans of the meth lab drama -- they are webcasting the episode for free.
The free webcast requires an advance registration, and will only entitle viewers to watch one particular episode -- Sunday night's "Breaking Bad" Season Five Premiere. The webcast becomes available on demand at 10 p.m. EDT / 7 p.m. PDT this Sunday night, July 15. No word on whether AMC will allow repeat viewings, or how long the on demand webcast will be available.
The webcast will be available at http://www.amctv.com/breakingbad4dish/, and registrees are required to check a box confriming they are indeed DISH customers. This begs the obvious question -- can you just check the box even if you aren't a DISH customer, and watch the "Breaking Bad" season premiere for free?
Apparently yes, you can. AMC confirmed to TechCruch that they will not verify whether viewers are actual DISH customers, as they do not have the legal or technical means to access a DISH customer database. As Jesse Pinkman would say, "YEAH SCIENCE!"
The drug lord turf wars depicted on "Breaking Bad" are nothing compared to the corporate turf wars between AMC Networks and DISH. Their dispute is related to the failure of a 2003 joint business satellite TV venture called Voom. Naturally, the companies are now suing one another -- with the trial slated to begin September 18.
This is matter is entirely unrelated to the Viacom vs. DirecTV dispute, which has left millions of DirecTV customers wanting their MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central.
In this dispute, DISH Network dropped all of the AMC-owned channels (AMC, IFC, and WE tv) on June 30. AMC is hitting back hard, even setting up an online petition and a clever 1-855-2DROP-DISH phone number. The free "Breaking Bad" webcast is their most aggressive PR move yet. AMC said in a statement to Bloomberg News, "We want to give Dish customers an extra week to switch providers so they can enjoy the rest of the season."
In other words, they're pretending to be generous while making an underhanded move to encourage DISH customers to dump the service. Well played, AMC Networks, well played.
"Breaking Bad" fans should realize that this will be the show's final season, with a possible feature film in the future.