Charter signs AMC Networks to exclusive programming deal

The Walking Dead
In the AMC hit series 'The Walking Dead,' cult leader Negan is shown here with a baseball bat, telling Rick Grimes and his band of scrappy survivors that for now on, half of every series they produce will be shown exclusively on his cable platform.

Charter Communications has announced a deal with AMC Networks in which the programmer’s studio unit will produce exclusive shows for the No. 2 cable operator’s Spectrum platform.

The companies expect the first shows co-produced and co-funded through the deal to premiere on Charter Spectrum in 2018. Under the agreement, Charter will have an exclusive initial window in the U.S., while AMC Studios will retain subsequent rights, including the right to distribute the content internationally.

AMC Networks formed AMC Studios in 2010, with the programmer facing steep production bills to outside production suppliers like Lionsgate and Sony Pictures Television for hits "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," respectively. 

Since that time, AMC Studios has produced the megapopular but aging "The Walking Dead." But none of its other nine series have managed to find huge audiences. 

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Charter, which is looking to differentiate itself from overbuilders, virtual MVPD suppliers and various other OTT competition, however, is looking for a recognized programming brand to set itself apart. 

“This is an exciting deal that furthers Charter’s goal of providing its customers with world class products and services,” said Tom Montemagno, executive VP of programming acquisition for Charter, in a statement. “AMC Networks is one of the most respected producers of high-quality original programming in the business and we are proud to partner with them to identify, develop and produce original content that will further differentiate our customer experience and the value we provide in a competitive marketplace.” 

As for AMC Networks, it has found itself in the precarious position of being bereft of water-cooler hits beyond "The Walking Dead." It’s a non-vertically-integrated media company that lacks live sports. And it’s working to secure attractive carriage deals with any leverage it can muster. 

“Charter believes that quality customer care is a cornerstone of their success, and by delivering unique, high-value products and services they continue to differentiate the Spectrum customer experience. This new content partnership is a powerful example of that dynamic at work,” said Ed Carroll, AMC Networks COO, also in a statement. “As AMC Studios becomes an increasingly important part of our business, this first-of-its-kind partnership represents a new horizon for us.”