As a horror fan, the new AMC+ bundle could replace Netflix for me - but there's a catch

The Walking Dead
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re anything like me, horror is a go-to genre for movie streaming, and it’s the category that I spend much of my time browsing when I fire up one of the best streaming services to see what titles are available.

While Netflix and Amazon Prime Video both pack a good selection of horror movies and series to stream, with Netflix notably offering Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities and director Mike Flanagan's Midnight Mass, the streaming destination for horror fans in the know is AMC+. That’s because, along with having its own horror-oriented shows such as The Walking Dead and its spin-offs, AMC+ provides access to the Shudder streaming service via its AMC+ premium streaming bundle, which also features BBC America, IFC Films Unlimited, and Sundance Now.

The AMC+ premium streaming bundle gives you a lot for its $8.99 per month cost, and it holds special appeal for fans of not just horror, but of independent cinema and high-quality series like Mad Men and This is Going to Hurt. It’s currently available in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Korea, and Spain, with streaming access provided through the AMC+ app and Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku platforms. Some of the best 4K TVs such as models from Samsung and Vizio also offer the AMC+ app in their proprietary smart interface.

Adding ads 

AMC+ has been ad-free from the beginning, but the company just announced that it will be offering an ad-supported tier later this year. Along with the programming that cable and satellite TV subscribers who receive the AMC channel as part of their package can access, the forthcoming AMC+ ad-supported tier will include content from Shudder, IFC Films Unlimited, and Sundance Now. 

No name or pricing info has been announced for the new tier, though if it follows the template of other services such as Netflix and HBO Max that have added ad-supported packages, it should cost around half the price of a premium subscription.

Why is AMC+ all of the sudden planning an ad-supported tier? Reading through the press announcement, its strategy doesn’t seem like one based upon giving viewers an affordable streaming option during a time of high inflation, but rather to provide potential advertisers with a more complete range of outreach options. To quote Kim Kelleher, chief commercial officer of AMC Networks from the company’s release: “With our new series content, library titles and other targeted streaming platforms that are all bundled into AMC+, partners can move beyond individual shows and even series and choose to ‘own’ whole genres and franchises to target audiences no matter what they are watching or where.”

It Follows

A scene from It Follows on Netflix (Image credit: Amazon)

The horror brand

I’m not sure what brand would want to ‘own’ a genre like horror (Monster Energy drinks?), but I do know that the insertion of ads into any movie breaks up its narrative flow. Horror movies in particular depend on atmosphere to create a heightened sense of suspense, and cutting away to an energy drink, insurance, or pharmaceutical ad – or maybe all three of them  – on a regular basis would kill the mood many films strive to create.

Netflix has moved away from movies over the years to a more broad-based content selection, with series, documentaries, comedy specials, and even reality TV shows competing for the attention of that service’s subscribers. Any one of those categories would lend themselves readily to commercial interruptions. But movies? I could just imagine It Follows, a current Netflix horror film offering that relies heavily on pacing and atmosphere to build up dread, being chopped up into 20-minute blocks with ads inserted between them. Such a presentation would butcher It Follows and completely dilute its hypnotic effect. 

HBO Max also has a wide selection of content, and it’s about to get much more broad-based on May 23 when it transitions to Max, a new mega-service combining HBO Max’s offerings with selections from the Discovery Plus service. 

Many of those new additions such as shows from the Food Network and HGTV were created with commercial interruptions in mind, so an ad-supported Max tier isn’t necessarily an unworkable idea. But a main reason that I subscribe to HBO Max is its excellent movie selection, and watching a horror film like Hereditary, Barbarian, or The Shining with commercial breaks is unimaginable to me – I’ll gladly pay twice as much to go ad-free, and will then be able to watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives without commercials when that gets added to the HBO Max mix in late May.

AMC channel shows like The Walking Dead won’t suffer much from commercial breaks since they were already produced to accommodate them. But I can’t say the same for Shudder’s horror movie selection, which features both classic and more recent indie titles, along with ones that lean toward the experimental. 

Skinamarink with commercial breaks? I shudder to think it, AMC+ 

Al Griffin
Senior Editor Home Entertainment, US

Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine. 

When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.