Videotron finally adding AMC

Videotron President of Consumer Market Manon Brouillette announced the deal with AMC as an aside during the launch of a new video on-demand service on Thursday.

Videotron President of Consumer Market Manon Brouillette announced the deal with AMC as an aside during the launch of a new video on-demand service on Thursday.

In the first draft of my story, I’d written “more than two years.” In fact, it’s been more than three. More than three years since Bell TV and Shaw Direct added the U.S. pay TV channel AMC to their lineups in the fall of 2009.

It was back in the fall of 2010 that Bill Brownstein wrote a column in The Gazette about the anger Videotron’s customers have had over the lack of access to the channel.

Now, finally, the long wait for the channel that brings us Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead is almost over. Videotron announced on Thursday, during a press conference to launch its new Netflix-like service, that it is adding AMC to its TV lineup within the next few days.

It was almost a passing reference, a by-the-way mention by Videotron President of Consumer Market Manon Brouillette while she did a demo of the video-on-demand service. Compared to the written press releases I was given announcing upgrades to Internet speeds and the fact that its next-generation Illico boxes had reached 500,000 subscribers, the AMC announcement was remarkably low-key.

AMC has been, by a long shot, the most requested new channel among Videotron’s clients (a quick check of their Facebook page or Twitter mentions can confirm this), and it’s been clear for months now that they have been trying to negotiate a deal to carry the network.

Brouillette was vague with me when I asked why it took so long, saying that Videotron is a regional player and there were financial issues. Whether it’s that AMC demanded too high a per-subscriber wholesale rate or something else like a high minimum penetration rate, we might never know. But now they have it, and Brouillette made it clear through both her words and her body language that this was a long, difficult process that has finally come to a happy end.

There’s no exact launch date yet, but it should be some time within the next two weeks, Brouillette said. AMC will launch in SD, HD as well as on demand. Packaging and pricing details are also not known (she said she wanted to wait until launch to announce them), but as a pay TV service I would not expect it to be cheap.

With the sixth season of Mad Men starting on April 7, fans of the show on Videotron will be able to watch it as it airs. For fans of The Walking Dead, whose third season is airing now, the launch date can’t come fast enough.

It’s here, and it’s everywhere

UPDATE (March 1): AMC is now live, on channel 209 in SD and 809 in HD.

It’s being added to the following packages:

  • Anglo
  • Telemax
  • Telemax+
  • Mega
  • Superstations (KTLA, WGN etc.)
  • The Movie Network (which also includes HBO Canada and FX Canada)

It’s not being added à la carte.

The fact that it’s in so many preassembled packages but not à la carte suggests that AMC demanded a high penetration rate as well as a high wholesale cost. This would explain why Videotron took so long to come to a deal. Unlike its competitors, Videotron offers à la carte selection of channels, and it’s not a fan of forcing channels (particularly expensive English-language ones) on all its customers.

The channel is on a free preview until May 31. It’s also available on demand on Channel 900. Right now that channel has just the three latest episodes of The Walking Dead (in SD), for fans to catch up before this week’s episode. The VOD channel is free for anyone with AMC, including those just benefitting from the free preview.

17 thoughts on “Videotron finally adding AMC

  1. Spruce Moose

    This is good news. My question is: When will Fox News be added? It was mentioned in the Bill Brownstein column, but it’s still no where to be found. Fox Business would be great as well.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      My question is: When will Fox News be added?

      I haven’t seen that much demand for Fox News. Remember that most of Videotron’s audience is francophone, and even the anglos are pretty left-wing. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but there doesn’t seem to have been much pressure for it lately, certainly not compared to what there was for AMC.

    2. Maybe John Galt

      What Quebecer — apart from the likes of Tommy Schnurmacher — would inquire about Fox News being available on cable? I’m not trying to be condescending; just curious.

      1. Marc

        What Quebecer — apart from the likes of Tommy Schnurmacher — would inquire about Fox News being available on cable? I’m not trying to be condescending; just curious.

        More than you’d think. The illusion that there’s a leftist political consensus among the entire population is just that, an illusion.

        Not sure if you’ll get to see that answer because I think I’ve been banned here, but I’m not sure.

  2. segacs

    All well and good, but if they price it as a premium channel like TMN or HBO, nobody will bother. Bell offers it as one of the standard channels available as an a la carte choice.

  3. mike

    Bell is offering AMC and TMN + HBO and Peachtree for 14$/month.
    Videotron is offering now TMN and HBO for 16$/month. Peachtree is separately. I am wondering if Videotron will ask more money for AMC (most probably).
    In this case Bell offer is more appealing.

  4. John

    In your Gazette article you state that if you access the streaming service through the Illico 2 set top box it does not count against your bandwidth limit. Since you know way more about the regulations concerning this sort of stuff, I ask, How is this legal? How can a distributor allow its own content with no penalty, but if I use Netflix, I am charged bandwidth.

    I may be very naive about this, but this seems to me to be horribly unfair and should not be permitted.

    An explanation of this would be appreciated Steve. Thanks

    1. Fagstein Post author

      They do it because when you watch through your set-top box, you’re not streaming it on the Internet. Instead, they send it to you the same way you get video on demand (in fact, you access it the same way, through Channel 900). No Internet use, so no bandwidth.

      Whether it’s legal is a complex question. Netflix or others could argue this is unfair. But I’m not sure how it would be rectified.

      1. John

        Do you know if Rogers, Shaw or Eastlink offer a similar service on the their cable systems?

        It is blatantly unfair and just another reason that internet providers should be never allowed to own both the pipe and the content.

  5. Joe

    If they try to charge more for anything AMC in included for me thats the last slap in the face before I head off to much hated Bell. But in some instances at least I.m getting my monies worth.

  6. Joe

    Just spoke to videotron says the new channels usually come in on wednesday so if not today then next wednesday. He also told that the channel is definatley confirmed and will be part of the HBO package or can be added as one of the extra channels in the ala carte channels if you have one.. Hang in there.

  7. Martin

    Hello. The channel is available starting today. Position 809 for HD. It’s being unscrambled for three months starting from today, so everyone gets it for the moment.


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