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CEO: SVOD, Disc Bringing New Viewers to AMC Networks Shows

11 Sep, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

CEO Josh Sapan said packaged media releases for ‘The Walking Dead’ underscored the value AMC places on the zombie serial

Bowing past seasons of popular series such as “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad,” “Hell on Wheels” and “Mad Men,” on Netflix a few weeks before their next-season broadcast premieres is a marketing strategy AMC Networks won’t abandon anytime soon, CEO Josh Sapan told an investor group.

Speaking Sept. 11 at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference in Los Angeles, Sapan said the idea is to lengthen as much as possible the window for multichannel video program distribution (MVPD) partners, while at the same time creating momentum at the retail and streaming channels as well.

“If you want to watch it when it’s happening, you have to watch it on MVPD for just about a year, and if you want to catch up, you can do that on a Netflix-SVOD opportunity,” he said.

Sapan said the release schedule strike a balance between pay-TV and alternative distribution channels.

“It is fair to say, [the strategy] has had the effect of bringing new people to our shows who have not caught up on the linear premieres,” he said. 

Indeed, ratings for the final installment of “Breaking Bad,” are tracking nearly 100% higher than for last year’s season.

“We are pleased with the performance of 'Breaking Bad'; it’s continued on an upward trend,” Sapan said, adding that its success is a testament to the multiplatform distribution strategies as well as the creative team behind the story of a high school chemistry teach with cancer who begins manufacturing and selling crystal meth.

AMC has given the green light to “Better Call Saul,” a “Bad” spinoff featuring sage ethically challenged lawyer Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk. The final season of “Bad” concludes its initial broadcast run Sept. 29.

Indeed, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release a collector’s edition Blu-ray Disc set of “Breaking Bad” Nov. 26, packing the 62 episodes on 16 discs and including more than 55 hours of bonus features, all in a collectible, replica barrel.

Sapan said he is pleased with consumer response to packaged media releases of “The Walking Dead,” including the third season on Aug. 27.  The fictional account of post-apocalypse survivors outside Atlanta dealing roving armies of zombies has generated AMC’s highest-ever ratings.

The CEO said AMC worked the show’s home entertainment distributor, Anchor Bay, to capture the essence of the show in special features and packaging.

Indeed, “The Walking Dead: Season 2” and the boxed set’s special features are nominated for Reaper Awards.

“We are owners of the show, so we are the beneficiaries of its consumption on multiple platforms around the globe,” Sapan said. “We do treat it with great care, and if one examines every [retail] incarnation, the recent DVD [and] Blu-ray Disc packaging was actually sort of exquisite, fanciful and engaging.”


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