AMC Networks has joined the parade of pay TV programmers that are endorsing skinny bundles generally — and Hulu’s planned live-streaming service specifically.
“We look at it fondly,” CEO Josh Sapan told analysts this morning in his quarterly earnings call when asked about the much-buzzed about digital offering in the works from Hulu, owned by Comcast, Disney and Fox.
It would be a surprise if he didn’t: AMC already offers programming to Hulu, and its channels are on Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue.
AMC has found that they’re “additive” to its subscriptions — countering those who who believe skinny bundles will encourage pay TV subscribers to cut the cord with the bigger, and more expensive, expanded basic offerings.
Sapan also says that the smaller alternatives are “very, very, very strong among key target audiences,” especially young viewers.
“The strength of our channels and brands will be elevated as the system — or, as it’s commonly called, ecosystem — has different options,” he adds. “The AMC networks will rise up in terms of price, value and attention.”
The CEO assured analysts that all’s well with The Walking Dead, even though the show’s ratings have weakened. He put it in the context of “franchise management” with Fear the Walking Dead and Talking Dead.
With that in mind, “our horizon for The Walking Dead is very long. We look at it in five-year chunks going forward with an eye toward delicately managing all of the creative aspects, its exposure, consumption, the creative group we have attending to it and the like. ”
Meanwhile, the main series remains “a great advertising vehicle. A spot in The Walking Dead sells stuff. It’s that simple. … We think it will be a good vehicle for the upfront” ad sales market generating higher unit prices.
Sapan also defended The Night Manager when an analyst said he was disappointed by the ratings compared with the expense for the new BBC-produced drama.
“The show is superb,” the CEO says. “That matters a lo. … We’ve seen TV shows develop momentum that were not necessarily discovered rapidly when they premiered.”
And Sapan isn’t concerned about the cost, saying he’s “very comfortable and pleased with the relationship we made the the BBC financially and otherwise.” Although the “skewed a little older” than other AMC series, “there’s a spectacular TV show that may find momentum via exposure.”