AMC CEO Sapan: Our channels are ‘dramatically underpriced’

The Walking Dead (Credit: AMC)

AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan told investors that his company’s channels are “dramatically underpriced” by MVPDs relative to the audience they deliver.

Sapan made his comments while speaking at a Goldman Sachs investor event. He said pay-TV operators are paying, on average, 25 percent in carriage fees for AMC Networks channels compared to what they pay other programming conglomerates.

Of the conglomerates, AMC Networks ranks at the bottom of audience delivery, according to Nielsen data recently crunched by MoffettNathanson. AMC delivers only 3 percent of total Live+7 ratings points for all age demos, trailing even niche-channel operator Scripps Networks Interactive (5 percent).

Sapan, however, said AMC provides value to MVPDs in other ways. He cited, for example, AMC’s decision to wait a year before selling current seasons of shows like The Walking Dead to SVOD platforms.

“Others put them on very quickly. We’ve been pretty consistent in trying to provide real value to MVPDs who… pay our license fees and brought us to the dance.”

He added, "We do sell to SVOD domestically — Netflix, notably, and Hulu. We are more deliberate and more careful and more restrained than some.”

That restraint could be costing the company. In July, AMC Networks offered voluntary buyouts to 200 veteran employees. AMC's stock price has cratered 33 percent in the last year. Ratings for its biggest programming drivers, the AMC shows The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul, ebbed last season.

For his part, Sapan said AMC has actually done an underrated job of replacing retired hits such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad

"Cable dramas, of the top 10, we have five of them,” he said. “So that's a pretty good place to be.”

For more:
- read this Seeking Alpha page
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story

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