Online boosts AMC shows

Channel operator AMC Networks, which counts hit series The Walking Dead and Mad Men among its programming, is benefiting from the online availability of such shows, according to President and Chief Executive Officer Josh Sapan.

“New viewers are finding these shows on a digital service, catching up on prior seasons and then tuning into AMC for new seasons in greater numbers, many for the first time,” Sapan said during a conference call with analysts as the company revealed its Q1 results.

“2012 got off to a strong start for AMC Networks, with double digit increases in net revenues, AOCF (Adjusted Operating Cash Flow) and operating income,” advised Sapan. “Continued viewer enthusiasm for our programming resulted in ratings gains for our national networks, most notably AMC’s The Walking Dead, which ended its second season with nine million total viewers, an increase of 50 per cent over last season’s finale. The series reigns as the highest-rated scripted drama in basic cable history in advertiser’s key demos. The fifth season of AMC’s Mad Men currently ranks as the most watched season ever of the series, outperforming the prior season by double-digits. These successes underscore the strength of our original programming strategy, which continues to drive audience and advertiser demand for our networks.”

AMC disclosed May 4 that Dish Network was planning to drop all four of AMC’s channels, including AMC itself, WE tv, the Sundance Channel and IFC, from the end of June. Dish confirmed the decision, citing the high cost of the channels in comparison with their viewership.

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen suggested that the availability of AMC’s shows via online video outlets had “devalued their programming content” and contributed to Dish’s decision not to renew the channels.

AMC warned that its future financial performance could be affected if its channels were dropped by Dish, but it didn’t specify by how much.

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