AMC – American Movie Classics. The name alone conjures up images of sepia-toned classics; House on the Prarie-Esque films of the great American heartland; amber fields of grain as far as the eye can see. But for all the romance that the channel’s name suggests, AMC didn’t even exist until the ‘80s. Since its creation in 1984, AMC has undergone plenty of change, but what hasn’t changed is its ubiquitous existence in the world of American television.
So today, I’m here to take a peek under the hood of the channel’s premium streaming service, AMC Premiere. With new streaming platforms cropping up left and right, it’s becoming more difficult to make wise consumer decisions. Do you go with Netflix? Hulu? Both, or neither? What does AMC Premiere have that the others don’t? What is AMC Premiere, anyway?
Here we’ll examine the premium service’s ins and outs. I’ll explain how it works, who it’s for, and whether it’s worth subscribing to it. You may even learn a thing or two in the process.
How it Started
If you flipped to the AMC channel any time during the ‘80s, you’d find it playing old-school American classics, most of them dating from before the 1950s. During those first years, the channel only played during the afternoon and evening hours. If you had a particular desire to watch The Phantom of the Opera or films by the Marx brothers when you got home from work, you’d be in luck. But if you were looking to watch something more contemporary, best look elsewhere. Simply put, it was a modest channel with humble ambitions.
Then the 90s came around, and modernity slapped AMC in the face. The channel responded to the technological zeitgeist by adapting a 24-hour playing schedule. Its customer base grew as major cable providers agreed to carry the channel. And for its first 14 years, AMC operated without any commercials. But soon, it cashed out and not only introduced commercials in between movies, but it also incorporated commercial breaks during the films. This act foreshadowed the big change the channel would soon undergo.
As the millennium began, AMC transformed into a modern-facing entity, ditching its ‘classics-only’ spiel to keep up with the times. Within years, reality series took the place of silent films. Management chalked it up to monetary necessity. The ruthless power of the dollar had won, and AMC seemed intent on becoming just like every other channel.
But by 2007, things took a turn. The launch of Mad Men breathed life into the channel, and it was soon followed up by Breaking Bad. The channel’s original programming gained some respect, and since then, things have been going well. Popular shows like The Walking Dead have helped sustain this growth, and now, consumers seem to have a certain respect for the AMC name.
How it Works
In the mad rush to bring new streaming services to the market, some major media companies have released clunky streaming platforms. Often, the way that these platforms are designed is confusing. Take Showtime, for example, which operates two near-identical streaming services: Showtime and Showtime Anytime. Both offer the exact same content, but each has its own standalone app and portal. Huh? We wish we could say AMC was more efficient, but it isn’t – not by much.
AMC Premiere is essentially a premium upgrade to your existing AMC subscription. If you don’t already receive AMC through your television provider’s bundle, then you aren’t eligible for AMC Premiere. There’s currently no way to sign up for it as a standalone service.
This isn’t to say that you need an AMC Premiere subscription to stream any of AMC’s content. By logging into AMC’s media hub through your television provider’s portal, you can download the regular AMC app. Once it’s installed, you can sync it to any of your streaming devices to watch your favorite content.
So why bother with Premiere? After all, the library is the same, right? Right. But what AMC Premiere does is give you access to special features, like being able to watch behind the scenes bonus footage or download episodes onto your device for offline watching. For select shows, they also promise an ad-free watching experience. At $4.99/month, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether Premiere is worth it.
To reiterate, you can only get Premiere if you already have access to AMC through a provider. To sign up for AMC Premiere, you’ll have to go directly through that provider. There’s no standalone app, and the $4.99/month charge will be tacked on to the monthly bill you receive from your provider.
Now, here’s where you’re in for a big disappointment. At it’s stated on AMC’s website, “Typically, you can watch the most recent episodes of in-season AMC shows currently on-air . . . If a show is not in season, you will not usually find episodes on the device, except during special catch-up opportunities.” Translation? AMC’s best shows, like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, are not available for streaming.
Presumably, the streaming giants nabbed up exclusive hosting rights to these shows early on in the game. Maybe AMC’s management didn’t plan on having a premium streaming service themselves. But without the channel’s bread-and-butter shows, what’s left?
We’ll divide AMC’s library into two groups: those available as full series, and those of which you can only watch the current season.
– The American West
– Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men
– The Making of the Mob
– State of the Union
– The Name of the Rose
Current Season Only:
– Walking Dead (Season 9)
– Talking Dead
– Into the Badlands
– Fear the Walking Dead
– Killing Eve
What’s the takeaway? As far as I’m concerned, this library is seriously lacking. Simply put, it’s a disappointing list, and those who were lured in by Breaking Bad or Mad Men will probably be dumbfounded to find these legendary shows absent on their parent channel’s premium streaming platform.
Design of the Website
Look, there’s not much to say here. The website is poorly conceived, clunky, and half-broken. Contrary to what you might expect, the search function doesn’t even search inside the streaming platform’s library. Rather, it searches through AMC’s entire archival catalog. A search for Mad Men turns up a 1999-looking query filled with useless links, including a list of the show’s cast and a link to the show’s Facebook page. You’d have more luck searching on Ask Jeeves.
The site’s navigation menu is equally awful. It’s broken down into subcategories: Featured Shows; All Shows; Movies; Schedule; and Talk. Clicking on Featured Shows brings you to a cluttered, counterintuitive landing page designed without rhyme or reason. If you are somehow able to locate your series of choice, then you’ll finally be in the clear. The web client functions adequately, though I’m not sure that’s much of an accomplishment – after all, it’s the bare minimum.
Prime Video’s Strengths
I’ll be frank here. There are very few strengths to speak of. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, then . . . well, even then, there’s only one season available to watch. While the service touts its ad-free viewing experience as a feature, I feel a bit like I’m being gaslit. Why wouldn’t a premium for-pay service offer ad-free viewing? This isn’t really a feature, but more of an industry standard.
Prime Video’s Weaknesses
Nearly everything about AMC Premiere is a weakness. Its website – which feels like it was designed in a CS class in 2003 – is a disaster. The user interface couldn’t be less intuitive. The subscription price of $4.99/month is insulting given the utter lack of show offerings. And the fact that AMC’s strongest series are unavailable is the coup de grâce. No Breaking Bad, no Mad Men, no Better Caul Saul. How dare you, AMC.