AMC Networks CFO Rules Out Direct-to-Consumer Streaming Service

Courtesy of AMC

Sean Sullivan instead touted AMC Premiere to keep targeting cable users with premium content.

AMC Networks, a cable channel giant that counts The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul among its TV hits, isn't looking to launch an over-the-top streaming service anytime soon.

"No, that's not something we're contemplating," AMC Networks CFO Sean Sullivan told an investors conference Tuesday when asked if his company was looking to stream its content direct to consumers to compete against Netflix and other digital disrupters.

"I don't think it's an eventuality, as I sit here today. If you're asking if I'm going to offer an AMC linear viewing experience direct to consumer, that's not something we're looking to do," Sullivan told the Deutsche Bank Media & Telecom Conference in Palm Beach, Florida, during a presentation that was webcast.

He instead pointed to AMC Premiere, a $4.99-a-month service where subscribers can view popular AMC shows in and out of the home. "Why not come up with a better consumer-viewing, ad-free option for the passionate viewer, and AMC Premiere is a perfect vessel to do that," Sullivan said.

AMC Premiere launched first on Comcast, and is headed to YouTube and fuboTV. "And hopefully we'll get more distribution coverage across the U.S," Sullivan said.

The AMC Networks exec also talked about The Walking Dead continuing as a franchise well beyond its current eighth season, as traditional TV ratings for the show begin to come down. "We have really started to transition the company to thinking about a franchise, and putting the consumer at the center, and having linear television just be one component of an overall exploitation and monetization of The Walking Dead in that franchise," he explained.

As Scott M. Gimple moves from showrunner to becoming chief content officer of the drama, Sullivan pointed to an array of brand extensions of The Walking Dead on digital platforms.

"We have gaming that we've done, we've done live events, we have theme park partnerships, we have a licensing and merchandising business, we have fans clubs. ... We are being thoughtful and disciplined in terms of the exploitation of the property," Sullivan said.