AMC Networks Registers Price Increases in Upfront

AMC Networks said it registered price increases in the high-single digits during upfront negotiations for the 2018-19 season.

“We saw healthy demand and healthy volume across all of our networks,” said Ed Carroll, chief operating officer at AMC Networks during the company’s second-quarter earnings call Thursday morning.

He was not specific about how much volume grew.

Carroll noted that this year’s market moved quickly for AMC.

“It was as fast as any in recent memory and I think a contributing factor to that was an eagerness among advertisers to get their money down next to quality content,” Carroll said.

“And of course we like that because we have four of the 12 highest-rated drama series on basic cable TV.”

He specifically pointed to BBC America shows Killing Eve and Planet Earth as contributing to AMC’s upfront.

Carroll said the scatter market continues to be strong for AMC and noted that the company was also ratcheting up its use of advanced audience targeting.

Prior to the upfront, AMC ran a number of successful campaigns using the company’s audience targeting system, including one for a pharmaceutical company and one with a soft drink company.

“We were able to access likely users and impact the sponsors’ campaign results positively,” Carroll said.

In this year’s upfront AMC set up a number of similar deals, including ones with a major auto company, a quick-service restaurant and theatrical movie company.

“We are finding that our proprietary advanced data platform is effective for us particularly in increasing volume among our highest CPM advertisers,” he said.

On the earnings call, an analyst asked about Andrew Lincoln’s announcement that his character would be leaving AMC’s high-rated series The Walking Dead.

Carroll noted that Lincoln, when he spoke at Comicon, did not say why or how he would be leaving.

“He did say his relationship with Sheriff Rick Grimes is far from over, which certainly on social media has added rounds and rounds of fan intrigue,” Carroll said. “So we believe that anticipation is building and will continue to build for the next season of The Walking Dead.

Analysts keep a close look at The Walking Dead because it generates such a big chunk of AMC’s revenue and profit.

On Thursday, analyst Todd Juenger of Sanford C. Bernstein, headlined his report: “It takes 22 Killing Eve's to replace 1 Walking Dead.

On the call AMC’s CEO Josh Sapan thought it was interesting that Wall Street was so invested in characters like Grimes, Don Draper of Mad Men and Walter White of Breaking Bad.

“We’re smaller in scale than some but I don’t think there are many earnings call where it’s actually relevant, where the shows have been significant enough and the characters developed relevant enough that you’re actually talking about an individual character and his fate in a season of a TV show,” Sapan said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.