AMC, IFC and Epix go live on Sling TV

Don Draper, meet Sling TV: The recently launched online TV subscription service started to carry AMC and IFC as well as the Epix family of movie channels Wednesday, which means that Sling TV subscribers can now tune in live for episodes of shows like The Walking Dead and Mad Men.

AMC and IFC are part of Sling’s $20 base package, which also includes ESPN1 and ESPN2 as well as TNT, TBS, Galavision, HGTV and a handful of other cable channels. Sling TV is also introducing a new Hollywood add-on package that includes Epix, Epix 2, Epix 3, Epix Drive-In and Sundance TV. The add-on package will cost customers an additional $5 a month, just like Sling’s existing add-ons.

The Hollywood add-on package will come with a replay feature to catch up on shows up to seven day after they aired. That’s neat, but likely won’t help to make Sling’s catch-up policy any less confusing.

Currently, the service offers three-day catch-up for channels like HGTV, Food Network, Galavision and a few others, but no catch-up at all for ESPN, Cartoon Network and TNT. But wait, there is more: “AMC and IFC will have the 3-Day-Replay feature for select content,” a Sling TV spokesperson told me, adding: “We are looking to work with AMC Networks to expand this feature moving forward.”

Inconsistent catch-up rights notwithstanding, the addition of Epix, IFC and especially AMC could help Sling to win over more would-be cord cutters looking to ditch pay TV for a cheaper alternative. Mad Men and The Walking Dead are some of those appointment TV shows that fans try to watch as soon as they air in order to avoid spoilers. Getting access to them through a $20 plan does sound pretty reasonable, considering that buying individual episodes in HD would cost consumers $12 per month for a single show.

For a first look at Sling TV, check out my previously recorded video below:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od3yR0D-c68]

Amazon Prime Instant gets Selma, James Bond and Star Trek

Amazon Prime customers will get access to a bunch of big Hollywood movies over the next couple of months via Prime Instant, thanks to an extended agreement between the e-commerce giant and premium cable network Epix.

The deal includes rights to new releases like Selma, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Interstellar and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 as well as some classics, including the Star Trek and James Bond movies.

All of the movies come from Paramount, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which co-own Epix. Amazon first struck a deal with Epix in 2012. At the time, that deal was seen as a blow to Netflix, which previously was the only subscription service with access to Epix movies. However, these days, Epix has deals with both companies, which means that film buffs without a Prime subscription will get to see the same movies on Netflix as well.

This post was corrected on 2/24 to clarify that the deal includes Star Trek movies, not Star Wars movies.

Epix to live stream Schooled: The Price of College Sports

Premium movie channel Epix will premiere its documentary Schooled: The Price of College Sports online this Wednesday, giving people without an Epix subscription access to the movie through a live stream at 5pm PT. The movie, which is all about the money in collegial sports, was produced exclusively by Epix. Making it available online could be good promotion for the network, but it’s also an interesting response to piracy and cord cutting. Epix CEO Mark Greenberg told me in a recent interview that the TV industry has to innovate to win over cord cutters:

“Some in the media business call this cord cutting. But three decades ago, we had a different name for this in the industry. We called it competition.”

DirecTV says sticking point in Viacom talks is … Epix?

They’ve been negotiating over some of the biggest cable networks on TV, but DirecTV says a near deal to end its weeklong impasse with Viacom has been undone by a lightly watched premium channel. The programmer calls that a fabrication, saying the two remain far apart.

Xbox Live is the first big step to true video convergence

The new Xbox Live update launching tomorrow is the start of a rollout of lots of new content partners on the platform. But the big innovation will be allowing them to be navigated from a unified search mechanism powered by Microsoft’s Bing.

Why Microsoft bought VideoSurf for $70 million

Microsoft has acquired video search specialist VideoSurf, reportedly paying upwards of $70 million for the Silicon Valley startup. The software giant plans to integrate the VideoSurf technology into its Xbox Live platform, providing more granular data about what’s happening on-screen.