AMC Sister Networks Going Dark for 'Mad Men' Finale

Mad Men Bar Scene - H 2015
Justina Mintz/AMC

Mad Men Bar Scene - H 2015

Perhaps taking a cue from Jimmy Kimmel's classy move to skip his daily ABC broadcast on the night of David Letterman's final Late Show, all non-AMC networks in the AMC Networks family are shutting down during Sunday's Mad Men series finale.

Sister nets BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV and WE tv are all suspending regular programming during the May 17 Mad Men series ender, airing a special message commemorating the series (and likely suggesting viewers turn the dial) instead. Flagship net AMC is celebrating the end of the series in its own way, by airing the series from start to finish, starting Wednesday night at 6 p.m. ET.

“Turning AMC over to Mad Men and airing every episode of every season as a lead-in to the finale on Sunday seems a fitting way to continue celebrating what this series has meant to the fans, to television and to our network,” said AMC president Charlie Collier. “We are also enormously appreciative of our sister networks who are paying tribute to this remarkable program that has had such an impact on our entire company.”

An assist couldn't hurt Mad Men. Despite its critical acclaim, and the brief run of these final seven episodes, the drama remains heavily time-shifted and draws a very modest haul among live viewers. Sunday's penultimate episode averaged just shy of 1.9 million same-day viewers. Still, it's the No. 2 scripted series on cable right now, behind only Game of Thrones. The latest live-plus-3 numbers have it rising past 3 million viewers.

AMC likely is hoping that the typical lack of urgency in the character-driven drama, which never has been one for plot twists, will be less of a ratings obstacle when it signs off for good. Advertisers certainly are interested. Commercial space, at an inflated rate, sold out in early April.