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AMC Networks is not suffering from Mad Men withdrawal symptoms

Mad Men Don Draper
At peace.
By John McDuling
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Barely two weeks after the much discussed finale of its most critically acclaimed show, shares of AMC Networks are within a smidgeon of their record highs.

So much for Mad Men withdrawal.

The balance of opinion on Wall Street evidently seems to be that the company is well positioned to cope with the revolution underway in the TV business.

“We continue to see evidence of outsized demand for AMC’s content, despite the challenges facing the TV landscape,” analysts at Piper Jaffray wrote this morning. They pointed to AMC shows like Halt and Catch Fire, which commences its second season this weekend, Humans, a robot drama the network acquired from Microsoft’s now shuttered XBOX Studios, and Fear the Walking Dead, a derivative of the mega-hit zombie show set to air in August, as some of the promising offerings in the pipeline. (You can find more details on them here).

Yesterday, at a conference hosted by Bernstein Research, AMC’s CEO Joshua Sapan gave some fascinating insight into the company’s strategy in this era of myriad connected devices and on-demand content services. The company came to the conclusion more than a decade ago that we would see a shift “toward material that people went to with a little bit more intention and less casually, and with less indifference or with more desire,” than in the previous era of television, when linear viewing (in other words, watching at set times) and channel surfing predominated.  

“That caused us to invest in…TV series that we thought had the qualities that would cause people to bookmark them and to say, yes, that is one of the ones I want to stay with. And that could be anything from something that’s very successful like The Walking Dead, which is a big show, or Mad Men which was not that big of a show, but had a really passionate audience.”

Its strategy has proved remarkably prescient.

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