EXCLUSIVE: AMC Networks is telling staffers that it’s looking to cut about 200 positions through buyouts, the company has confirmed.
No word yet on the size of the package being offered to those who have been with AMC for at least 10 years. No particular units are being targeted. The cuts would represent about 6% of the workforce and are strictly voluntary — at least for now.
Pressure to cut costs has been growing as AMC boosted outlays for original programming, but without a clear return in the ratings. Wall Street is particularly concerned about the company’s prospects as its mega-hit The Walking Dead begins to fade. AMC’s stock price has declined nearly 24% so far in 2016, and more than 33% over the last 12 months.
Ratings dropped for the second seasons of Better Call Saul and Fear the Walking Dead while new series Preacher and Feed the Beast generated disappointing numbers.
“We do not see any near-term catalysts to resolve these concerns, and, in fact, would expect further declines in The Walking Dead ratings this fall to exacerbate the issue,” UBS Securities’ Doug Mitchelson said in a Friday report where he downgraded AMC shares to “sell.”
He adds that Hulu may not include AMC in the bundle of channels it will live stream beginning early next year, which “meaningfully increases uncertainty.”
Macquarie Capital’s Tim Nollen is more optimistic, saying that ratings often miss how often people time-shift AMC shows — especially this year when many of them were up against NBA post-season games, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and election-year news. Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead were the two highest rated shows on ad-supported cable in the season that ended in May.
As for Hulu, “AMC’s fan base, broadening viewership and relatively low per-sub fees may earn” a place in the line-up, Nollen says.
AMC plans to release its Q2 financial results on August 4.
Other companies including Fox and Discovery have also recently offered staff buyouts.