Asked to elaborate on CEO Josh Sapan’s mention of a third zombie outing, COO Ed Carroll said the spinoff is in “active development.” He declined to offer many more specifics, including whether it would fall under an existing distribution agreement with Hulu.
“We’re not at a stage where we’ll be announcing its plans to premiere,” Carroll said. “But we have hired creative people that have pitched story outlines. We feel very good about the development of that series. We’re not in a position to talk about partnerships in terms of other territories or ancillary windows, other than that there’s a healthy appetite for it and we’ve had a number of conversations with a lot of players in the space.”
A new TWD series comes as the mother-ship show has seen a slew of departures such as Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan and series-low ratings in its ninth season. Additionally, as more crossovers are in the works with spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, Lincoln is set for a series of TWD movies and Black Panther star Danai Gurira will be easing down her TWD presence in the show’s upcoming 10th season.
Carroll asserted that the inevitable fade of the original show should not obscure its status as the No. 1 series on cable and the No. 2 drama on TV behind NBC’s This is Us.
“We are well aware that when a show has been around for nine years, you would expect viewership to be declining, but I think we’ve managed that and managed that well,” Carroll said. “When The Walking Dead is no longer part of the channel, I think that will have more of an impact on revenue than on [income] because generally expenses go up as the seasons continue and viewership declines. That’s just a general pattern with any show that’s been around as long as The Walking Dead has.”
The company’s fourth-quarter results beat Wall Street estimates, with adjusted earnings per share of $1.92 clearing the bar by 8 cents and revenue of $773 million coming in more than $15 million above analyst expectations.