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AMC Networks Analyzes SVOD Impact on Linear TV Programs

5 May, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

AMC Networks has long borrowed a tactic from the DVD playbook offering past episodes of series such as “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” on Netflix in advance of their new seasons on linear TV.

AMC since 2015 expanded the SVOD blueprint to include Hulu with additional programming from IFC, BBC America, Sundance TV and WE tv.

Speaking on the company's fiscal call, CEO Josh Sapan called the streaming impact a year removed from a debut of TV show’s new season a “moving phenomenon” that continues to evolve.

“I don't think anyone knows the absolute science with certainty of what sort of sampling and exposure on SVOD does and whether a platform of 12 million [Hulu] versus a platform of 40 million [Netflix] is actually helpful or occasionally hurtful,” he said.

Sapan contends that just as DVD helped spark buzz for “Walking Dead” when the zombie show launched in 2010, it is easy to theorize that SVOD provides an easy opportunity for sampling new content.

“If the quality of the material is good, it can create talk, subsequent buzz and referral, meaning a friend will say, ‘oh, watch this show,’ and then if you're interested enough, you'll like it and you'll go watch the new season,” he said.

At the same time, Sapan said the concern whether there's enough urgency in a TV show among viewers versus waiting a year and binge-watching it on a streaming service is real.

“That's something to keep one's eye on,” he said.

But with Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video breaking the bank to pay for catalog and original programing, money can mitigate fears of undermining linear TV’s status quo.

“We think our approach is a wise approach,” Sapan said. “We receive revenue for the syndication of our shows, and we think Hulu is a very good platform to be allied with, and that frankly its footprint is probably more desirable than undesirable for us. I don't know if the science actually lands absolutely in one place [Netflix] or another.”


About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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