AMC+ ad-supported tier will launch later this year

AMC Networks is the latest streamer to jump on the AVOD bandwagon, revealing on Monday it plans to launch an ad-supported version of AMC+ later this year.

AMC has not disclosed pricing or an exact release date for the tier, but it is expected to arrive by October, as the company plans to sell the offering in its 2023-2024 upfront. The ad-supported tier will also include content from Shudder, IFC Films Unlimited and Sundance Now, which are already bundled into the AMC+ service.

Asked last year if AMC would consider introducing ad-supported offerings of its streaming services, then-interim CEO Matt Blank rebuffed the suggestion.

"It's funny, when you hear one other large player have some problems in their growth, all of a sudden an ad tier is going to solve their problems," said Blank last May, though he added AMC will “monitor the market, and we'll see what happens."

Since then, AMC underwent an executive shuffling. Christina Spade, who last September succeeded Blank as CEO, stepped down after less than three months in the role. Then in February, AMC named Kristin Dolan as the company’s new CEO.

The latter half of 2022 also saw Netflix and Disney+ launch their respective ad-supported tiers. Disney hasn’t disclosed how many subscribers use Disney+ with ads, but Netflix’s ad-supported plan has reportedly reached 1 million monthly active users.

According to AMC Chief Commercial Officer Kim Kelleher, AMC+ with ads will allow advertisers to buy AMC’s shows, genres and franchises “in a much more comprehensive and impactful way.”

“With our new series content, library titles and other targeted streaming platforms that are all bundled into AMC+, partners can move beyond individual shows and even series and choose to ‘own’ whole genres and franchises, and drive messaging to target audiences no matter what they are watching or where,” said Kelleher in a statement.

In addition to announcing the ad-supported plan, AMC unveiled Audience+, its new insights and data targeting platform. It’s designed to help advertisers target specific audiences across all of AMC’s linear and digital distribution platforms.

“Never before have we been able to pull all of our viewership across all platforms, into one unduplicated view and see who is watching, what they are watching and when across linear, VOD, and all CTV streaming, to map a path to viewers across all of our shows and platforms,” stated Evan Adlman, AMC Network’s EVP of commercial sales and revenue operations.

With Audience+, Adlman said advertisers can take one targeted data segment and “singularly deliver it across all our linear networks and CTV streaming channels, inclusive of AMC+.”

AMC in Q4 saw its paid streaming count increase to 11.8 million subscribers. On the company’s last earnings call, AMC chairman James Dolan commented the media industry’s current mechanisms for monetizing content “are not working,” citing factors such as cord cutting, rising content costs and a challenged ad market.

As AMC prepares for the launch of AMC+ with ads, it’s also expanding content on free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) platforms. In March, AMC expanded its multi-year content deal with Vizio to provide five more free channels and over 150 on-demand movies to Vizio’s WatchFree+ FAST platform. Prior to that, AMC partnered with Roku to bring 11 FAST channels to The Roku Channel.