AMC Selling Six-Second Spots in 'The Walking Dead'

A lot can happen in a hurry on The Walking Dead. That will soon include advertising.

AMC Networks says will add a six-second spot to the start of the top-rated zombie drama beginning with the second episode of season 8, airing October 29.

Thirty-second spots in The Walking Dead reportedly cost about $500,000, the most for any scripted program on TV.

Scott Collins, president of ad sales at AMC Networks, said the network started selling the spots Monday and is looking for a price somewhere between the cost of a 15-second spot and a 30-second spot for these short messages, which will air in an exclusive new pod at a time when the audience is biggest and most engaged.

“All eyes are going to be on it so it is really we think the most valuable moment that you could buy,” Collins says.

With advertisers questioning the value of TV advertising and viewers increasingly turning to commercial-free on demand programming, TV networks are experimenting with ways to make advertising less intrusive and more engaging.

The six-second spot was introduced this year by YouTube and adopted by Fox, which ran its first six-second spot in its broadcast of the Teen Choice Awards in August. Fox has since put six second ads in other shows, including its NFL football broadcasts.

Related: YouTube Says Advertisers Using 6-Second Spots Up 70%

To build value for the short commercial, Fox is locating them in short or exclusive pods and in places in programming where longer spots might not fit.

Similarly AMC is putting its six-second spot after the re-run of the previous week’s episode of The Walking Dead and before the start of the premiere of the new episode. Previously AMC had no break between the shows.

With The Walking Dead’s high ratings and the placement of the new spot, this is “the most powerful and engaged six-second moment you can buy on television,” AMC’s Collins says. “There’s no other ads with it. There’s no billboard and no local. There’s no promo. It will air at the top of the show. It will be picked up by every DVR and won’t be worth fast-forwarding.”

He expects to spot to have the highest price in term of CPM (cost for reaching a thousand viewers) in the show.

“There are only seven of these were selling in the fourth quarter. It's not like I have a lot to move,” Collins says. “We could sell it all to one advertiser for seven weeks or so or we could break it up.”

He noted that many advertisers buy commercials in The Walking Dead during the upfront, then spend more money in the scatter market.

“Obviously this new format is not for everyone there are a lot of brands that don't have to be creative or feel they can't tell their story within six seconds,” Collins says.

But news about shorter spots has caused a lot of chatter among media buyers and clients.

“We had a lot of questions about it ourselves. So we stop and thought long and hard how can we create something that maybe a little bit different unique and more valuable so we kind of feel like this is an extraordinary opportunity to apply this new advertising format to the number one show,” Collins said.

The launch of the new season of The Walking Dead will also mark a big sponsorship deal with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew brand that includes a augmented reality app that will enable fans to find favorite zombies and take pictures and selfies with them.

The zombies can be located by watching the show and by scanning Mountain Dew products and supermarket displays that have Walking Dead characters printed on them.

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.