By Anjali Athavaley
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Charter Communications Inc will develop and produce original programming with AMC Networks Inc, which is known for the show "The Walking Dead," to differentiate its content offerings, the cable company said on Wednesday.
The programming will be available exclusively to Charter's Spectrum subscribers initially, and AMC will get subsequent rights, the companies said. They are discussing the kind of content they will produce, and they expect it to air on the Spectrum platform beginning in 2018.
The announcement shows how pay-TV providers are seeing value in partnering with or buying content companies, which are having an increasingly difficult time as standalone entities.
AT&T Inc, which became the largest U.S. pay-TV operator after buying DirecTV in 2015, is acquiring Time Warner Inc in an $85.4 billion deal that would give it control of cable channels like HBO and CNN and help the wireless carrier diversify its business. It has said the deal will close by the end of the year.
In November, John Malone, whose Liberty Broadband Corp is Charter's largest stakeholder, said at an investor meeting: "I think Charter should, at the back of its mind, be thinking about what kind of content, content investment, content involvement would enhance their business but also would enhance the value of the content."
Tom Montemagno, Charter's head of programming acquisition, said in a statement on Wednesday that the AMC partnership would help "further differentiate our customer experience and the value we provide in a competitive marketplace."
The content partnership is separate from a free online video streaming service that Reuters reported AMC was planning to launch for millennial cable subscribers.
Charter and AMC shares were up roughly 1 percent in midday trading on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Anjali Athavaley; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)