AMC Networks Centralizes Executive Structure, Upping Sarah Barnett, David Madden And Linda Schupack; 40 Positions Eliminated

AMC Networks

AMC Networks has centralized its operations, promoting Sarah Barnett to president of entertainment networks and upping senior executives David Madden and Linda Schupack.

The restructuring will result in about 40 layoffs, or about 2% of the workforce at the entertainment networks, sources tell Deadline. AMC Networks did not comment on any job losses.

The shift comes less than a month after the announcement that AMC vet Charlie Collier is heading to New Fox, replacing Gary Newman as entertainment chief of the slimmed-down entity.

Barnett, the current president and GM of BBC America who previously had that role at SundanceTV, will add oversight of AMC, SundanceTV and IFC. She will also lead AMC Premiere, the company’s subscription service offering ad-free versions of original series and other perks for fans. Barnett will continue to report to Ed Carroll, Chief Operating Officer of AMC Networks.

Madden, a two-decade veteran of the Fox broadcast network and studio, is currently president of programming for AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios. The reorg will give him responsibility for BBC America and IFC programming. As head of network programming for the company’s four entertainment networks, Madden will report to Barnett. On matters relating to AMC Studios programming, he will report to Carroll, as will other top execs at the studio.

Linda Schupack, who is EVP of Marketing for AMC and SundanceTV, has been promoted to the new role of President of Marketing, Entertainment Networks. She will now lead all marketing functions for AMC, BBC America, SundanceTV and IFC, reporting to Barnett.

The company’s lifestyle network, WE tv, will continue to be managed by WE tv President and
General Manager Marc Juris, reporting to Carroll. The handling of scripted programming is the primary focus of the changes, Carroll and Barnett said in an interview with Deadline, which is why WE tv is largely unaffected.

“We wanted a structure that would make us as nimble as possible,” Carroll said, eliminating duplicate pitches under the same roof. “We wanted to see the entire marketplace from one seat.”

Barnett emphasized that the goal is not homogenization but rather operational efficiency. “We will be retaining the same brand filters for all of our networks,” she said.

David Madden

Some key execs will continue in their existing roles after the changes. Former IFC chief Jen Caserta, who was promoted last spring to Chief Transformation Officer, will continue in that newly created position. Blake Callaway, Executive Director, will continue to oversee IFC, and Jan Diedrichsen, Executive Director, who will continue to oversee SundanceTV and the Sundance Now streaming service.

In the official press release announcing the changes, Caserta said the new structure “will enable us to better operate and leverage the strength of our entertainment networks as we continue to position the company to take advantage of new opportunities.”

Other executive are getting new promotions and titles and will report to Barnett. They include:

Courtney Thomasma, who is being promoted to Executive Director, overseeing BBC America.

Marnie Black, EVP of Public Relations, who will continue to oversee all consumer PR functions for AMC, SundanceTV and Sundance Now, adding BBC America and IFC to her responsibilities.

Tom Halleen, EVP, Programming Strategy, Acquisitions and Scheduling, AMC and SundanceTV, who is expand his purview to include BBC America, IFC and WE tv.

Mac McKean, EVP, Innovation, who will continue to oversee AMC Premiere and expand his responsibility for digital, gaming and new products across AMC, BBC America, SundanceTV and IFC.

AMC Networks reported solid third-quarter financial results last Thursday, beating Wall Street estimates and also announcing the completion of its acquisition of streaming specialist RLJ Entertainment. As with other programming-centric media companies like Viacom and Discovery, AMC is trying to move quickly to diversify its revenue streams. It still makes good money from carriage fees and advertising via the traditional pay-TV bundle from its network portfolio of AMC, IFC, Sundance, We TV and BBC America. But linear ratings across the landscape have been eroding as viewers take advantage of technology to seek other entertainment options.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Declining viewership for flagship franchise The Walking Dead has raised some alarms on Wall Street in terms of AMC’s future. “The company has had a mixed track record of developing new hit programming and has not licensed a new hit franchise in nearly 10 years,” wrote Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz in a note to clients. “With both advertising and affiliate dollars earned per viewer in line with peers, there is less low-hanging fruit for the company to harvest.” One bright spot, Creutz noted, is that the company is considered a potential acquisition target.

Asked about how the state of the zombies may have played into the reorganization, Carroll said, “It’s always good to sharpen the programming lens.” But he noted the meteoric ratings for the show since nearly its inception still leave it far ahead of nearly every competitor on TV, even in its ninth season. He also said breakthroughs in 2018 such as Killing Eve on BBC America have pointed the way forward for AMC. “We have a lot of great opportunities ahead of us,” Barnett added.

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