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AMC Networks CEO: 'Our Health' is Tied to Pay-TV

4 May, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Network home to ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Better Call Saul’ isn’t all aboard SVOD bandwagon

In the battle between multichannel video program distributors and subscription streaming services for stacking rights to current-season TV shows, AMC Networks appears to be keeping one foot with pay-TV.

On the May 4 fiscal call, AMC CEO Josh Sapan was asked if the premium channel was receptive to upping the “rolling five” status quo granting pay-TV operators rights to no more the previous five episodes of a TV season.

With changing consumer TV viewership habits, scuttlebutt suggests pay-TV operators should be granted extended episode rights for binge-viewing. At the same time, SVOD leaders such as Netflix say doing so diminishes the streaming license value of content.

“I think there is a view out there that that has to change,” analyst Anthony DiClemente with Nomura, said on the call.

Sapan said AMC’s relationship with MVPDs remained critically important in the face of a burgeoning over-the-top video landscape. He said the network wants to work with distributors’ TV Everywhere platforms to make them more progressive and operational across devices.

The CEO said there is an ongoing evolution on the specifics on how that distribution proceeds going forward.

“We think our health is tied to [the MVPD] health,” Sapan said, adding that the network also balances the economics of content in different distribution channels.

Following AMC’s recently announced exclusive license agreement with Hulu Plus, Sapan was asked about speculation the Disney/Fox/Comcast co-owned SVOD does a better job than Netflix cross-promoting content across both pay-TV and streaming.

Hulu Plus is under a mandate by its corporate owners — notably Fox’s Rupert Murdoch — to field a formidable SVOD competitor to Netflix. The service, which just announced it has 9 million subscribers, has significantly upped content spend, including a new slate of original programming.

“Hulu Plus does a frankly, ever-better job promoting. So, we were very attracted to their structure and their capabilities. It was a factor that went into the [license negotiation] mix. I don’t think it was ‘the’ factor. We think very highly of Netflix as well,” Sapan said.


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