AMC arrives on Bell TV

The US cable channel and its hit series Mad Men will be available via the satellite provider next week.

Bell TV on Monday became the first Canadian content carrier to distribute 100 HD channels, after it unveiled plans to offer AMC and its hit drama Mad Men to its digital subscribers.

The satellite TV operator will follow cable rivals Rogers and Shaw and launch AMC from Nov. 11, with the fictional character Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the adulterous, back-stabbing staffers at ad agency Sterling Cooper as the crowd-puller.

Mad Men is just such a popular show,’ say Kevin Crull, president of Bell Residential Services, of the original AMC drama from Canadian mini-studio Lionsgate.

AMC will be offered in standard and high definition at no extra cost to Bell TV’s premium movie theme package subscribers. The addition brings Bell TV’s offering to just over 100 HD channels, distinguishing it from cable rivals like Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications – with 60 of the HD channels offered for free to Bell TV subscribers.

‘There’s no question that our goal is to have the most HD channels, the most HD content, and to have superior technology so subscribers can watch and record programming when they want to,’ Crull argued.

Besides Mad Men and Hollywood movies, Bell TV subscribers will get access to the AMC series Breaking Bad, about a methamphetamine-making schoolteacher, and from Nov. 15 the new The Prisoner mini-series remake of the classic UK series from the ’60s airs, among other original dramas.

Crull said cable channels like AMC, HBO and Showtime are seizing the attention of Canadian TV viewers with original series as US networks embraced reality TV and other less-costly programming alternatives in recent years.

Bell TV is filling a void left when CTV stopped airing Mad Men after its second season. Shaw picked up AMC on Sept. 1, just as the third season of Mad Men, which ends Nov. 8, started airing stateside.

Maple Pictures, the Canadian distributor of Mad Men, also struck a deal with Apple’s iTunes online store to offer downloads of individual episodes.

Rogers has offered AMC to its digital subscribers since 2006, and more recently exploited the US channel’s increasingly mainstream appeal, thanks to Mad Men.

From Playback Daily