AMC Networks CEO Says He's Been Prudent Amid Industry Consolidation

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Josh Sapan told Wall Street watchers that his cable channels group has "been using the balance sheet for a careful, surgical and strategic M&A."

AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan on Wednesday touted the continued investment by his cable channels group to get bigger but insisted he had been prudent as his company competes against new industry forces.

Appearing at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference during a session that was webcast, Sapan argued AMC Networks has become more of a studio and is focusing on a limited number of channels in an age of skinny bundles and virtual distributors.

But Sapan, when asked about industry consolidation that has seen a series of mergers and acquisitions, added "there's been a rush to scale." Sapan said AMC networks had grown "roughly two-fold" to press ahead in a fast-changing media landscape with a smaller number of well-defined and strong networks.

"That doesn't mean it's big. We brought the channels overseas because we wanted a global platform," he told investors, and Sapan pointed to a production pact with the BBC to bring popular shows like Orphan Black and The Night Manager to his channels.

"We've been using the balance sheet for a careful, surgical and strategic M&A," Sapan then added, as he pointed to the continuing strength of his channel offerings to traditional platforms and an increasing array of virtual multichannel video programming distribution outlets.

"Our (five) channels are strong and they are highly desirable, and they are very well-priced from a wholesale point of view. As the world is changing, and there's price pressure on the video component...we are in a preferred position," Sapan argued.

Asked about the weaker ratings for AMC hit show The Walking Dead, Sapan argued the popular series was more of a franchise. "The Walking Dead is a universe...and we have a plan to manage over the next decade, plus. That plan is a careful plan to respect the world of the fans of that world," he argued, as Sapan pointed to Fear of the Walking Dead as an extension of The Walking Dead franchise.