The fate of AMC Networks has always been determined by its controlling shareholders, the Dolan family, and now Kristin Dolan will get a chance to get the ailing programmer back on track.
The wife of executive chairman James Dolan (though the pair is separated), who has worked as a media and entertainment exec for more than three decades, will take the reins of the company February 27. She will succeed Christina Spade, the company’s former CFO who lasted just three months in the top job last year before parting ways with the company during a time of turbulence for the industry and the broader economy. James Dolan took a more hands-on role as Spade was headed out the door and, in steering the company through the past few months, has presided over the layoffs of 20% of the company workforce and a number of programming pullbacks.
Like a lot of its peers, AMC Networks has faced intensifying pressure from cord-cutting as it looked to build its presence in streaming with a group of niche services like Shudder, Acorn TV and AMC+. It has projected reaching 20 million to 25 million total subscribers across the portfolio by 2025, with streaming accounting for more revenue than traditional pay-TV.
The company prospered after being spun off from Cablevision in 2011, with original hits like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Mad Men enjoying peak levels of linear distribution at a time when Netflix original programming was in its infancy. With ad and affiliate revenue flagging and profit models for streaming still not clear across the industry, the going has gotten a lot tougher in recent years. A Wall Street Journal report earlier today said the company rebuffed takeover overtures by Roku, Lionsgate and several private equity firms as its valuation dipped below $1 billion. Word of the interest by potential acquirers boosted shares 10%, but they remain less than half their value a year ago.
AMC Networks is scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Friday morning.
Kristin Dolan most recently had been serving as CEO of 605, the audience measurement and data analytics firm she founded in 2016. Before 605, she spent 16 years in various operating roles at Cablevision, including as chief operating officer. The company, which was one of the largest MVPDs and a force in the New York market (where the other Dolan assets, including Madison Square Garden, are based) was sold in 2016 to French telecom firm Altice for $17.7 billion as a wave of M&A reshaped the pay-TV landscape.
Prior to Cablevision, Dolan held various marketing roles at AMC Networks (then known as Rainbow Media Holdings), including in affiliate marketing and distribution, where she began her career in 1989.
Before Spade’s elevation to CEO in 2022, AMC Networks had been led on an interim basis by Matt Blank, a media veteran known for his lengthy run as CEO of Showtime. Blank stepped in after Josh Sapan departed in mid-2021, as did COO Ed Caroll a short time later. Between them, Sapan and Carroll had 60 years of experience at AMC and Rainbow.
“Kristin is a proven executive and operational leader with a track record driving organizational change, a history managing subscription-based businesses, and a deep understanding of audience engagement and advertising,” James Dolan said in the official announcement. “These are areas of critical importance as we transform our company and monetize our high-quality content. With her considerable experience and knowledge of the company, Kristin is the ideal person to lead AMC Networks into its next chapter as we navigate this transformative period in the industry.”
Kristin Dolan called it “a privilege to join a company with a long legacy of engaging audiences with excellent storytelling and world-class brands.” She added, “It’s also where I started my career in the
industry. I look forward to bringing my broad experience—across programming, cable operations, and most recently, utilizing data to reimagine television advertising—to leverage AMC Networks’ strong assets, drive the next phase of the company’s growth, and build shareholder value in the coming years.”
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