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Thursday, February 14, 2013

AMC Takes All the Fun Out of Watching Their Shows

Posted by on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Slog tipper Dan let us know about the sad case of Cinema Salem, which had to cancel its popular Walking Dead screening series:

Hey there faithful Walking Dead fans! We have noticed that over the last few days you’ve been inquiring as to whether we’ll be showing it on the big screen again when the mid season premiere happens on Sunday. The answer is no, and here’s why. Towards the end of the last part of the season we received a cease and desist letter from AMC demanding that we not show episodes of their show because the screening was unlicensed. We responded that our business license from Direct TV allowed us to show television to our customers. We continued showing you the episodes.

After the season finale, we got another letter, which said that our business license was irrelevant because of the size of our screen. We did not respond because we were in the process of switching from Direct TV to Comcast. We did not think it would be useful to appeal to Direct TV since we were going to be discontinuing service with them. Comcast has since told us that they do not think screen size is relevant to whether or not our screenings are licensed, but have yet to produce anything in writing to that effect. So we will not be screening The Walking Dead until we feel secure in our legal right to do so (which may be never).

Bullshit like this is pretty commonplace because networks and movie studios apparently hate fun, and they especially hate it when large numbers of fans come together to watch their products in large groups. Dan points out that AMC also killed a Walking Dead screening series hosted by a Portland comic book shop in November. These events are publicity for the shows, and they help create a feeling that the shows are not-to-be-missed events. I don't know why anyone would think it was a good idea to shut them down. Could you imagine if the NFL tried to make it illegal to watch football games in bars? The entertainment industry keeps trying to make sure that fans don't enjoy their product, and it's painful to watch them do this again and again.

 

Comments (20) RSS

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veo_ 20
The walking dead sucks anyway. I skipped the last half of season 2 due to yawning too much during the first half, and while the first half of season 3 picked up, the season 3.5 opener was another yawnfest.

I think I'm going to just cut my losses. too bad, it's a great looking show, but they can't figure out their pacing.
Posted by veo_ on February 15, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
19
I'm not sure public group disappointment would add value to the show. It's best to be disappointed in how shitty Walking Dead has gotten in the privacy of your own home.
Posted by tkc on February 15, 2013 at 10:56 AM · Report this
singing cynic 18
This is my local movie theatre. They did the same thing for the final season of LOST and it was huge fun. What a shame that AMC is being douchey. I never made it out for TWD screenings, but I'm assuming that the screenings (like the LOST ones) were free - people would buy concessions, and the theatre got more loyal customers, but they weren't directly making money off of them. I don't understand the conflict.
Posted by singing cynic on February 15, 2013 at 6:09 AM · Report this
17
@13 would that it were so. As long as people are willing to pay for cable TV in its current form (and out seems that they are) it's unlikely to change.

Cord cutters thus far represent a insignificant, if vocal, fraction of the public, much like people who loudly proclaim that they don't own a TV.
Posted by Corydon on February 15, 2013 at 5:02 AM · Report this
NotSean 16
@4 That's what came to my mind too.

If they want to ever claim ANY control, the courts say they (unfortunatlely) must consistently assert total control, however dickish it may seem.
Posted by NotSean on February 14, 2013 at 9:51 PM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 15
@13, I agree. We are seeing the playing out of John Boehner's Millenium Copyright Act, a/k/a the Disney Owns The World Act. This shit happens because we had a stable, predictable intellectual property system of laws, and since Disney owned Boehner, they decided to enact the current system which is so random and chaotic that no one has any idea what is protected and what is not.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on February 14, 2013 at 8:52 PM · Report this
McBomber 14
As #10 pointed out, if viewers are watching the commercials (and in a theater unable to use a DVR and less likely to leave the room), wouldn't viewings like these increase the size of their audience, thereby allowing them to charge more to their advertisers? Isn't that precisely why bars can play NFL games? Is AMC really about "the art" of Walking Dead? I'm confused.
Posted by McBomber on February 14, 2013 at 8:35 PM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 13
The death throes of a near-dead business model.
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus http://www.grantropolis.com/ on February 14, 2013 at 7:12 PM · Report this
12
"Could you imagine if the NFL tried to make it illegal to watch football games in bars? "

As others have pointed out above, the NFL is just as bad. Here in San Francisco MLB let the City put up a big screen in the plaza outside of City Hall and show the SF Giants at the World Series. But the NFL refused permission for the City to do the same thing a few months later when the Niners were playing in the Superbowl.
Posted by PaulBarwick on February 14, 2013 at 6:29 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 11
That said, it is unfortunate that AMC cannot see the value of getting such an enthusiastic group together to watch and enjoy their show. It is difficult to imagine how there is value in using their resources to shut down such an enthusiastic bunch of fans.


Presumably they are imagining value in enthusiastic fans paying to watch the expensive shows that they produced?
Posted by Josh Bis http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Author.html?oid=3815563 on February 14, 2013 at 6:24 PM · Report this
10
Doesn't AMC have commercials? "Please stop showing our customers' advertisements to large groups of people."
Posted by pox on February 14, 2013 at 6:20 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 9
Yeah yeah, HBO doesn't allow bars to show their eps of True Blood or Game of Thrones either.

Highline gets away with it because they buy the DVDs, they don't show the show as it comes out.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 14, 2013 at 6:03 PM · Report this
8
Screw DirecTV and Comcast. Dip your cup into the river of bits around you to watch what you like. Mail a check to anyone whose work you want to support.
Posted by Phil M http://twitter.com/pmocek on February 14, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 7
There was an article on Bloomberg News about how AMC may be up for sale, given all the award winning shows it has.

Which would be a shame, of course.

@2 for the sad, sad win, in a day when AMC is just hurting themselves.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on February 14, 2013 at 4:57 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 6

There's a company in New York that streams all the broadcast shows on the web. They way they (think they) get around licensing is to install a tiny, cheap antenna in a room in Manhattan, one for each subscriber. So in effect they are merely relaying that person's broadcast signal to them using digital.

Not sure how this would apply.

For example, I have a Rhapsody license and a Netflix license. I feel that in some sense, this entitles me to watch or hear anything that is licensed by these two. So, if say, there is a movie that is only on DVD in Netflix, but is being streamed by someone, am I not protected?

Ultimately, I have suggested that what is needed is simply a generic "media license" that lets a person consume any media stored anywhere, and the proceeds are distributed back to the artists and so on based on how often the artwork is viewed, streamed, downloaded, copied...
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on February 14, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 5
I agree with @3, even though it takes away the social aspect. HBO doesn't let me watch their shows on Netflix, HULU, or even buy episodes individually, so I make sure to always BitTorrent their shows. :)
Posted by ScienceNerd http://stanichium.tumblr.com/ on February 14, 2013 at 4:31 PM · Report this
4
Is there an argument to be made along the same lines as trademark dilution: either aggressively defend it all the time or risk losing your right to defend it at all? I don't know if a similar principle applies here, but it could explain their behavior.
Posted by doceb on February 14, 2013 at 4:28 PM · Report this
JonnoN 3
Bittorrent.
Posted by JonnoN http://www.backnine.org/ on February 14, 2013 at 4:27 PM · Report this
bhowie 2
AMC could look at this as the best kind of free marketing, and actually encourage it, thereby making new fans of their shows. But no, that would make sense.
Posted by bhowie on February 14, 2013 at 4:13 PM · Report this
deadrose 1
*ahem* The NFL really doesn't approve of their games showing on big screens either: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/2007020…
Posted by deadrose on February 14, 2013 at 4:11 PM · Report this

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