AMC Networks COO Ed Carroll To Exit, Ending His 34-Year Tenure As M&A Speculation Continues To Swirl

Ed Carroll AMC Networks
AMC Networks

Ed Carroll, the longtime chief operating officer of AMC Networks, has decided to exit at the close of 2021 after 34 years at the company.

The exec, who had a key role in ushering in signature hits like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, was named COO in 2009. He has a five-year contract due to expire on December 31. His departure follows word last month that former CEO Josh Sapan was also stepping down after his own 26-year tenure. The company has installed former Showtime boss Matt Blank as interim CEO.

The Sapan-Blank news fueled speculation that after more than a decade as a publicly traded company, AMC Networks was perhaps taking a closer look at the vibrant M&A marketplace. The home of The Walking Dead has long been bruited about as a potential takeover target, but that decision rests with a small group of shareholders: the Dolan family, which controls the company.

AMC Networks, formerly Rainbow, was spun off the Dolan-run Cablevision in 2011. Cablevision was itself mentioned for many years as a candidate to take part in one of several waves of cable industry consolidation, but the family didn’t agree to sell until 2015, to French telco Altice. The Dolans retain sizable holdings in sports and live entertainment, including venues like Madison Square Garden and its main tenants, the NBA’s Knicks and the NHL’s Rangers.

Carroll’s time at AMC Networks saw him occupy a number of roles and he gained a reputation in the cable programming world as a shrewd operator possessed of a dry wit.

“For decades, Ed has been the heart and soul of AMC Networks,” said Sapan, who is now AMC Networks’ executive vice chairman. “He has been at the center of the shows and movies that brought success to the company, and at the center of what has made AMC Networks a great place to work. In a business where credit for achievement can be actively sought, Ed looked for none, choosing to make all around him look good. His kind is rare.”

Blank saluted Carroll’s “efforts to help ensure a smooth transition as I’ve taken on a new interim role with the company,” adding that his content expertise is helping the company shift to being “the worldwide leader in targeted streaming.” The company’s streaming portfolio includes AMC+, Acorn TV, Shudder, ALLBLK and Sundance Now.

“It has been a great ride and extremely satisfying to work with an extraordinary team to create TV shows with impact and, most recently, to successfully bring to market a new streaming platform with AMC+,” Carroll said. “Among the things I am most proud of is greenlighting Breaking Bad and Mad Men, including teaching Bryan Cranston how to act and Jon Hamm how to look good in front of a camera.”

Carroll has been a key exec in introducing original programming at the company, whose networks started off running all acquired fare. The roster of shows he helped oversee includes Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead, and Kevin Can F*** Himself; BBC America’s Killing Eve; IFC’s Portlandia and Documentary Now!; SundanceTV’s Rectify; and WE tv’s Love After Lockup. He helped lead the creation of AMC Studios, enabling the company to produce and distribute owned originals like The Walking Dead franchise and its expanding Anne Rice universe. The upcoming Interview with the Vampire series is slated for a 2022 premiere.

On the global front, he spearheaded AMC Networks’ expansion overseas across Europe, the UK and Latin America, and oversaw the international channels operations.

Before his time as COO, Carroll was GM of Bravo, where he helped launch such shows as Inside the Actors Studio and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

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