AMC+ Is Well-Positioned To Expand Shudder’s Reach Past Spooky Season

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Halloween horror content has become just as big of a seasonal hit on streaming services as romcoms on Valentine’s Day and holiday specials before Christmas. The No. 1 movie and No. 1 show on Netflix are The Haunting of Bly Manor and Hubie Halloween, Hulu has a Huluween hub, and Disney+ has a Halloween section that includes all 30 of The Simpsons‘ “Treehouse of Terror” episodes.

For Shudder, which crossed over the one million subscriber threshold in September, horror is not seasonal; it’s the blood-spurting heart of the service.

“Shudder competes incredibly well on its own against Netflix and Hulu for horror,” says Craig Engler, Shudder’s general manager. “If you only want to watch one or two horror movies, you’ll probably be happy with Netflix or Hulu. If you want a service with a broad and deep horror selection, you come to Shudder.”

And now that the service is available both as a standalone streamer and as part of the new AMC+, subscribers who want a dose of horror — seasonal or all year around — can have it solo or along with a rewatch of Mad Men, a check-in on The Walking Dead, and an exclusive look at U.K. mega-hit Gangs of London.

AMC is touting the AMC+ horror scale-up for October as 1,000 hours of horror programming, including A Nightmare on Elm StreetBram Stoker’s Dracula, The Amityville Horror, Final Destination, From Dusk Till Dawn, and numerous titles in the Friday the 13th franchises.

Mad Men, Orphan Black and Shudder

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AMC+ is a premium, ad-free service that includes new and catalog originals from AMC, BBC America and IFC, and the complete collections of Shudder, Sundance Now and IFC Films Unlimited:

AMC Networks launched the streamer in June on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex and has since expanded to Dish, Sling TV, Apple TV and Amazon’s Prime Video. For a current Shudder subscriber, AMC+ is only $1-$3 more a month depending on the platform. If you subscribe to more than one of AMC’s services, AMC+ is cheaper. If access to current episodes of AMC shows is the difference between subscribing to cable or cutting the cord, AMC+ is considerably cheaper.

“You pay a little bit more money, and you get a range of services,” Engler said. “Shudder is the service you get if you want just horror, thriller and supernatural; AMC+ gives you more of the great content throughout AMC.”

Content is King — If You Have Distribution

Apple TV and Prime Video, which both began offering AMC+ for $9 a month at the beginning of October, have given the service almost universal distribution. The Prime Video app is available on essentially every platform, and the Apple TV app is available on Roku, Samsung, LG, VIZIO, Amazon’s Fire TV, and launching this week on Sony TVs.

Apple TV and Prime Video also integrate AMC+ into your viewing experience the more you watch — dedicated content rows, recommendations based on your viewing, etc. — and allow you to start viewing a movie or TV episode on the Apple TV or Prime Video app on one device and continue later on another device.

That’s a sharp contrast with WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, which launched on May 27 and is currently unavailable on the Roku and Amazon Fire TV platforms that account for more than 70% of U.S. connected TVs. HBO Max originals like Anna Kendrick dramedy Love Life and sci-fi epic Raised by Wolves have gotten scant media and consumer attention because they’ve been stranded on a service that’s not available on most connected TVs.

Over the last year, originals like The Mandalorian on Disney+ and Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ have been able to break through with viewers and in the entertainment media by streaming on services that are available on nearly every TV platform. If you heard good things about either of those shows and wanted to see them, they were probably available on your living room TV.

Particularly for a company much smaller than rivals Netflix and Disney, AMC Networks is better positioned for a breakout horror hit like Spiral, whose trailer racked up 2.5 million views in its first six weeks on YouTube. Gangs of London on AMC+ is already getting more critical attention — including a “Stream It” rating from Decider — than it would have received on a niche service like BritBox or AMC’s Sundance Now.

Scott Porch writes about the TV business for Decider. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Beast and a podcast producer for Starburns Audio. You can follow him on Twitter @ScottPorch.

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