AMC Networks Inc. is an American entertainment company headquartered in 11 Penn Plaza, New York, that owns and operates the cable channels AMC, IFC, WE tv, BBC America (through a joint venture with BBC Studios), and SundanceTV; the art house movie theater IFC Center in New York City; the independent film company IFC Films; and premium streaming services Sundance Now and Shudder. In addition, the Company operates AMC Networks International, its global division.
The company was originally launched in 1980 and formerly known as Rainbow Media Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of Cablevision, but was spun off as a publicly traded company in July 2011. The company is majority-owned and controlled by the Dolan family.
When Rainbow was formed in 1980, it originally included Bravo and SportsChannel New York. As SportsChannel expanded by adding other regional networks, these also became part of Rainbow (see SportsChannel America). When SportsChannel was merged into Fox Sports Net, all of these networks except SportsChannel NY (then Fox Sports New York) were gradually sold off. Fox Sports New York was then transferred to the MSG Media and rebranded MSG+.
In 1988, Cablevision merged their cable networks with NBC, giving NBC 50% ownership in Rainbow. Through a series of transactions, NBC's stake was eventually reduced. In 2002, Cablevision sold its share of Bravo to NBC and as part of the deal, NBC gave up its then 20% share in Rainbow.
The company had also founded Orlando, Florida station WRBW in 1994, which it eventually sold to Chris-Craft in 1998; it was affiliated with the since-defunct UPN, which Chris-Craft owned half of at the time. Chris-Craft later sold its stations, including WRBW, to Fox Television Stations, who currently operates WRBW as a MyNetworkTV station.
In 2005, Cablevision considered spinning off its content subsidiary Rainbow Media as a publicly traded company, and making their core cable business private, but withdrew the plan. In 2006, a new plan emerged to privatize all of Cablevision, including Rainbow Media. In January 2007, with no word on if the privatization would go through, Liberty Media expressed interest in acquiring Rainbow Media from Cablevision.
Rainbow Media also formerly owned the music channel Fuse; the channel became a part of MSG Media in 2010, as Madison Square Garden was also spun off as a public company. Rainbow Media also owned Wedding Central which was shut down the same day AMC Networks went public.
On March 10, 2011, Cablevision, as approved by its board on December 16, 2010, announced that Rainbow Media would be spun off as a publicly traded company, AMC Networks, later in 2011, and, as said in 2005, making their core cable business private. Rainbow Media's former president Josh Sapan serves as the president and chief executive of AMC Networks which went public on July 1, 2011.
On May 4, 2012, Dish Network announced that it would no longer carry the AMC Networks family of cable channels upon the expiration of the satellite provider's distribution agreement with the company at the end of June 2012, citing that AMC Networks charged an excessive amount in retransmission consent payments from the service for their carriage and low audience viewership for the channels.
AMC Networks responded to Dish Network's announcement of its pending removal of the channels as being related to a 2008 breach of contract lawsuit against Dish Network by the company's former Voom HD Networks subsidiary (under the company's previous Rainbow Media Holdings brand) (which is pending trial in the New York State Supreme Court), in which it is seeking more than $2.5 billion in damages against Dish Network for improperly terminating its carriage contract; Voom's high-definition channels were carried on the provider from May 1, 2005 until May 12, 2008 when Dish removed ten of Voom's fifteen channels from its lineup and the five remaining channels the following day. Dish Network stated that the lawsuit is unrelated to the decision to remove the AMC Networks channels and that it ended the carriage agreement on its own terms.
On May 20, 2012, Dish Network removed Sundance Channel from its channel lineup. Two weeks later on June 4, 2012, Dish relocated AMC, WEtv, and IFC to higher channel positions with AMC being split into two separate standard definition and high definition channel feeds (AMC moved from channel 130 to channel 9609 for the SD feed and 9610 for the HD feed, WEtv moved from channel 128 to channel 9608 and IFC was moved from channel 393 to channel 9607); the former channel lineup spaces occupied by the three channels were respectively replaced with HDNet, Style and MoviePlex multiplex channel Indieplex. The move is believed to be in response to an ad run during a June 3 airing of an episode of Mad Men urging Dish Network customers to inform the company to keep the three AMC Networks channels on the satellite provider, with Dish Network stating that the relocated channel positions better reflect the channels' ratings.
On July 1, 2012, Dish Network dropped AMC, WEtv, and IFC from the channel line-up altogether.
On July 12, 2012, AMC said in an e-mailed statement that it would stream over the Internet the season premiere of Breaking Bad to Dish customers. "Dish subscribers can register online starting July 13 for the show, which airs on July 15. We want to give Dish customers an extra week to switch providers so they can enjoy the rest of the season."
On October 21, 2012, AMC Networks announced a settlement was reached between them, Cablevision and Dish in which Dish was forced to pay up to $700 million in damages to Cablevision for damages from removing Voom owned channels off the Dish lineup back in 2008, and in return Dish signed a new agreement to bring the AMC Networks owned channels back on the Dish lineup with AMC returning October 21 and the rest on November 1.
From 2013 to 2015, the company acquired or joined a joint venture each year. On October 28, 2013, AMC Networks announced it would acquire most of Chellomedia, sans Chello Benelux, an international operator of cable networks, from Liberty Global for around $1.04 billion. On October 23, 2014, AMC confirmed it had purchased a 49.9% stake in BBC America, with BBC Studios retaining the remaining share of the network. In 2015, AMC Networks, along with Upfront Ventures, Daher Capital, Northgate Ventures, invested a round of funding in the Latin YouTube network MiTú.
In 2016, AMC Networks finalized a partnership agreement with former BET founder Robert L. Johnson's RLJ Company. According to the agreement, AMC will use its programming and distribution clout to benefit Acorn and UMC. Additionally, the RLJ-AMC partnership will allow for greater investment in content from African-American creatives, Johnson emphasized. The agreement called for AMC to provide RLJ with a $60 million loan on a seven-year term and $5 million on a one-year term. AMC has received warrants to purchase at least 20 million shares or the equivalent of 50.1% of the company. The time frame for exercising those warrants is open-ended, AMC said.
On October 28, 2013, AMC Networks announced it would acquire most of Chellomedia, an international operator of cable networks, from Liberty Global for around $1.04 billion. The acquisition did not include Chello Benelux, owners of Film1 and Sport1. On February 2, 2014, the transaction was completed. What was formerly Chellomedia will now be known as AMC International and will allow AMC Networks to distribute its programming worldwide.
BBC America (49.9% stake) joint venture
On October 23, 2014, AMC confirmed it had purchased a 49.9% stake in BBC America, with BBC Studios retaining the remaining share of the network. The joint venture will also give AMC operational control in BBC America, which will be managed as a stand-alone from AMC's other channels.