AMC is harnessing the only thing more terrifying than human cruelty, rampant cannibalism, or the risen dead in its current contract negotiations with satellite TV provider DirecTV: passive-aggression. The network (reusing old tactics) has begun airing ads during its post-apocalyptic hit The Walking Dead, warning fans “that their ability to watch the show on DirecTV is at risk.” The presumable goal of the campaign is to mobilize the show’s myriad fans into a massive horde, which will then descend on DirecTV (in the form of emails and phone calls) and demand that the provider finish renegotiating AMC’s carriage agreement, which expires at the end of 2014. That would put the contract’s termination point directly in the middle of The Walking Dead’s split fifth season, leaving customers without access to the back half of the season, and transforming them into shambling, rage-filled metaphors for the fragility of human existence and satellite TV contracts.
DirecTV has already fired back at the ad campaign with a website telling customers, “Don’t let AMC scare you,” with a big, friendly table reminding viewers that they still have four unaired episodes to watch this year before the agreement lapses. Of course, savvy fans of the show know that safety is merely an illusion.