AMC goes the DIY route to replace 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad'

More than half a decade and several programming executive regimes ago, AMC found instant brand-building in a bottle--twice--with original series hits Breaking Bad and Mad Men. These shows were never huge mass-audience drivers, but they drew the kind of educated, affluent, loyal audience following that made AMC a "must-carry" among pay-TV services, while transforming the network into an elite destination for HBO-like cinematic story-telling.

But for AMC management, there was always one problem: Lionsgate owns Mad Men, and Sony Pictures Television produced Breaking Bad, meaning every licensing renewal for those shows challenged the network's lean business model. Now, in launching its next generation of shows--starting with the debut of period drama Halt and Catch Fire Sunday--AMC is looking to produce its content in-house. The Wall Street Journal lays out the programming strategy here