AMC Networks CEO: TV Industry Needs "Greater Accountability"

Getty Images
Josh Sapan

"We're true believers that every channel should stand up on its own, be valuable, be priced well," Josh Sapan said.

The era of the participation trophy is coming to a close, at least in the TV industry, where consumers appear tired of paying for a bundle of a few hundred channels while watching only about 17 of them.

"We've been in preparation for a world in which you're not rewarded for just showing up." AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan said Monday at the UBS Global Communications Conference in New York.

Sapan, of course, was addressing the phenomenon known as cord-cutting and cord-shaving, whereby consumers ditch cable or satellite TV, or significantly scale back, while using cheaper, digital services like and Hulu instead.

"In one form or another there is likely coming, at least incrementally, greater accountability for the life and price of every channel that is carried in the system," Sapan said.

"We're true believers that every channel should stand up on its own, be valuable, be priced well," Sapan said.

While a rejection of the bundle among some consumers might harm some competitors, AMC is in a good position for the backlash with five popular channels and numerous hit shows.

On the flagship AMC network Sapan called out The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, as well as Better Call Saul, Into the Badlands and Humans as TV shows he thinks will have "an awful lot of longevity."

On AMC's joint venture BBC America, he gave shout-outs to Top Gear, The Hunt, Orphan Black and Dr. Who, the latter of which he noted has been around for five decades, basically redefining the meaning of a hit TV franchise.

"If there are, and I think there will be, in ways that are anticipatable and un-anticipatable, pressures on the bundle, we will not only survive, but we may even thrive, because there's potentially opportunity for upward trajectory on wholesale price," said Sapan.

He said that while some competitors will license episodes of some shows to subscription-video-on-demand digital services shortly after they air on regular TV, AMC has no intention of veering from its strategy of waiting a year or longer.

Without disclosing too much about AMC's financials, he boasted of not having to overspend to develop and acquire new shows and he said the television scatter market for advertising is "fairly solid."