AMC CEO talks mitigating churn as company’s DTC service footprint grows

Acorn TV
AMC Networks recently acquired RLJ Entertainment and with Acorn TV. (Acorn TV)

AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan is in charge of a growing slate of streaming services, and with that comes more exposure to higher levels of subscriber churn.

The network recently grew its direct-to-consumer SVOD product footprint with its acquisition of RLJ Entertainment, owner of streaming services Acorn TV and UMC. With that, AMC’s streaming initiatives expanded to include partnerships with the BBC and ITV, AMC’s DTC channels Shudder and Sundance Now, and AMC Premiere, the company’s commercial-free service on Comcast Xfinity.

During today’s earnings call, Sapan said that AMC Networks has spent five years building its tech stacks for its streaming channels, as well as hiring people that are adept at managing customer relationships, data analytics and average subscriber life.

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“It’s a bit of science, of course,” Sapan said about managing subscriber churn, while admitting that some of AMC’s DTC content is demographically sensitive when it comes to maintaining subscriber interest.

“Older people tend to churn a lot less than young people who move in and out with the flip of a thumb,” said Sapan. “As we go forward, we will undertake course corrections on the tech stack, on product, on subscriber lifecycle and engagement and, most importantly, on content.”

RELATED: AMC Networks buying RLJ Entertainment, owner of SVODs Acorn TV and UMC

When asked if AMC’s streaming strategy might take a page out of Netflix’s book and keep massive amounts of content coming in to mitigate churn, Sapan said AMC won’t try to emulate Netflix’s strategy and go head-to-head.

“We have taken a separate path and gone more targeted where the individual, absolute collection and name of shows support a brand. It has its own effect and appeal for certain constituencies,” Sapan said.

Of course, that strategy could change in the future as the market place continues to evolve.

“We could overtime make different moves with the now-many subscribers we have across those different services and choose to do different things with programming given all the considerations we have related to our incumbent position and our relationship with the MVPDs who we cherish. We’ll take all that into account,” Sapan said.

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