AMC Networks CEO Sees No Dramatic Price Rises for Scripted Shows

Issue 3 BIZ Exec Suite Josh Sapan - H 2013
Adam Kraus

Issue 3 BIZ Exec Suite Josh Sapan - H 2013

Josh Sapan told an investors conference that original dramas aren't a limited commodity, like TV sports rights.

AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan says Netflix, Amazon and Hulu joining traditional networks in the hunt for the next hit TV show shouldn't dramatically force prices up like TV sports rights get bid up.

"In dramatic scripted material, where story is all, you can in certain instances get bidding, but you're bidding into something that's somewhat unknown," Sapan told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference during a presentation that was webcast.

Take hit AMC series like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and more recently Better Call Saul. "There was not only active bidding for those shows, there was no bidding for those shows. They couldn't sell them, in most cases, and they had been widely rejected and shopped around," Sapan told investors.

TV dramas, unlike sports rights, aren't a limited commodity, and so won't necessarily get bid up sharply, especially if like AMC Networks you develop your own material. "If you're reasonably confident in your development and in your eye and the team of people working on that, then one often finds there's no bidders at all," Sapan told the conference.

"So we don't see dramatic price escalation, but what we do see occasionally is some more speed to commit," he added, as some shows go straight-to-series, rather than to pilot, for example. Sapan also doesn't see the rise of the skinny bundle impacting his business anytime soon.

"People like one price for lots of stuff. There's probably more strength in larger bundles, particularly when packaged with broadband, than some might have thought," he said.

Sapan also rejected that AMC Networks needs to shoot for scale to compete in today's media landscape. "What’s most important is to have content that people really desire,” he told investors.