AMC Networks, Vizio Expand Streaming Video Partnership

Vizio March 30 announced an expanded partnership with AMC Networks, affording Vizio Smart TV owners access to the AMC+ app, nine free streaming channels and 159 on-demand movies on Vizio’s free streaming service, WatchFree+. AMC Networks’ channels include Portlandia, MSG Sports Zone, AMC en Espanol, Allblk Gems and Overtime, among others.

The launch builds on AMC’s free streaming channels already available on WatchFree+, including All Reality WE tv, AMC Thrillers, IFC Films Picks and The Walking Dead Universe, including “The Walking Dead: Dead City” — featuring the popular Maggie and Negan characters — and “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon,” coming later this year, in addition to the forthcoming final season of “Fear the Walking Dead.”

Other AMC series include “Dark Winds,” “Gangs of London,” “Happy Valley” and the recent premiere of “Lucky Hank,” starring Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul,” “Breaking Bad”), among others.

“The expansion of our partnership is based on user engagement with existing AMC programming across FAST and AVOD programming, as well as viewer response to the recent addition of AMC+ to our premium app library,” Katherine Pond, Group VP of platform content and partnerships at Vizio, said in a statement.

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The deal also includes access to series in the Anne Rice Immortal Universe, including “Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire” and “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,” along with a catalog of series and movies, including weekly new movie premieres.

“As we continue to build a new programming universe and franchise around the works of Anne Rice, and bring new stories from the world of ‘The Walking Dead’ and other new original series, we value our partnership with Vizio to connect our original programming with viewers as part of our growing distribution ecosystem,” Kim Kelleher, chief commercial officer of AMC Networks, said in a statement.

AMC Networks Adds 700,000 Q4 SVOD Subscribers

AMC Networks Feb. 17 reported it added 700,000 subscription streaming VOD subscribers in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2022) to up its combined SVOD sub base to 11.8 million, from 11.1 million at the end of the third quarter on Sept. 30. Streaming revenue increased 35% to $502 million, from $371.8 million in the previous-year period.

The companies’ streaming platforms include AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now, anime-focused HIDIVE, Acorn TV, ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel) — the latter two services acquired in the Image Entertainment merger.

The sub uptick disclosure comes two days after Kristin Dolan, wife of executive chairman James Dolan, was named CEO with a mandate in part to increase the companies’ streaming footprint, while also cutting costs companywide.

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Previous CEO Christina Spade exited the company last November just 90 days after being hired reportedly due to conflict with Mr. Dolan on how to streamline payroll, among other issues.

AMC reported severance and related personnel costs of $45.2 million in the quarter.

While AMC has a legacy of churning out content hits such as “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” “Mad Men,” “Hell on Wheels” and “The Killing,” among others, the company has largely opted to license content to third-party platforms such as Netflix.

The company’s new franchise series “Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire” has launched as the No. 1 all-time new series on AMC+, and the No. 2 new basic cable drama in 2022. Follow-up show “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches” is pacing to become the most-viewed single season of any show on AMC+, and is a top 10 cable drama in the current broadcast season.

“AMC Networks is focused on maximizing the value of our high-quality, popular content through optimized content monetization as we reduce costs and drive cash flow,” Mr. Dolan said in a statement. “We believe this approach will position the company well to navigate current industry dynamics and enable us to generate long-term shareholder value.”

Season Seven of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Coming to Disc Jan. 10

Lionsgate will release Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Seventh Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Jan. 10.

The “Walking Dead” spinoff follows a group of survivors in Texas in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. The cast includes Alycia Debnam-Carey, Colman Domingo, Lennie James, Maggie Grace, Austin Amelio, Colby Minifie, Karen David, Ruben Blades, Danay Garcia, Jenna Elfman, Alexa Nisenson and Mo Collins.

Home video extras include a commentary on the first and 16th episodes with executive producers and co-showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg; commentary on the third episode with Elfman and writers Nick Bernardone and Jacob Pinion; and commentary on the 16th episode with Chambliss.

In addition, the Blu-ray will include access to digital copies of the episodes.

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New ‘Walking Dead’ Spinoff to Reunite Rick and Michonne

SAN DIEGO — A Comic-Con panel for “The Walking Dead” July 22 included an announcement that AMC Networks was produced a spinoff of the horror series that would reunite former series stars Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira.

The pair play Rick Grimes and Michonne, characters who fell in love but were separated and left the series before the current final season.

Lincoln and Gurira have been actively involved in the creative direction of the new series, and made a surprise appearance on the Hall H stage for the final panel for “The Walking Dead” at Comic-Con.

 

Scott M. Gimple, chief content officer of “The Walking Dead” Universe, will serve as showrunner on the series, which will begin with six episodes in 2023. Lincoln and Gurira are both executive producers.

“This is a moment fans of ‘The Walking Dead’ have been waiting for since Rick disappeared in the helicopter early in season nine, and Michonne journeyed away on a quest to find him the following season,” said Dan McDermott, president of entertainment and AMC Studios for AMC Networks. “What a great surprise for the fans at this final Comic-Con for the series that launched this universe and made television history. We couldn’t be more excited for a truly epic series finale later this year and to see Andy and Danai return in a new series they helped create, one of three new series coming in 2023 that continue the stories of so many iconic and fan-favorite TWD characters.”

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“Rick and Michonne are two of my favorite people and Danai and Andy are two of my favorite people,” Gimple said. “Working with all of them continues to be a dream come true. The three of us, along with a terrific team of TWD all stars and incredible new voices, are crafting an insane love epic worth the long, long wait.”

“This has been the most extraordinary journey playing Rick Grimes for the best part of a decade. The friendships I’ve made along the way are deep and lasting, so it’s fitting that I finally get to complete the story with Danai and Scott and the rest of the ‘TWD’ family. I’m so excited to be returning to the screen as Rick, reuniting with Danai as Michonne, and bringing the fans an epic love story to add to the ‘Walking Dead’ Universe.”

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“Michonne and this TWD family has meant so much to me, and to continue the journey of these beloved characters, alongside Scott and Andy, both creatively and in front of the camera, and bringing ‘The Walking Dead’ fans something truly special is just glorious. I can’t wait to pick up the katana again,” Gurira said.

AMC Networks Announces 2022 San Diego Comic-Con Plans: ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’

AMC Networks has announced its lineup of panels and events at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con International, which runs July 21 to 24 at the San Diego Convention Center.

The agenda includes the final panel for “The Walking Dead” ahead of its final episodes this fall; the Comic-Con debut panel for “Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire”; a panel for “Tales of the Walking Dead,” the new episodic anthology within the “Walking Dead” universe debuting Aug. 14; and Shudder’s new docu-series “Queer for Fear,” premiering this fall.

In addition to its panels, AMC Networks is returning to the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Hotel to transform the Skylight Terrace and Gaslamp ballroom into The Walking Dead Fan Celebration, an in-world activation at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 22, reuniting Comic-Con and “TWD” fans to relive some of the most iconic moments and characters from the past eleven seasons.

Fans will be treated to a variety of exclusive experiences, designed specifically for San Diego Comic-Con, including an impressive collection of series setpieces, props and artifacts from all seasons, showcasing the series’ artistry and craft, and offering fans the chance to capture photos and videos among their favorite elements from the series. Custom video content will also highlight memorable “TWD” moments, and include special messages from cast and crew.

AMC will distribute custom-designed “TWD” enamel pins, representing iconic images from the show’s eleven seasons, plus one bonus design pin commemorating the Walking Dead Fan Celebration.

Attendees will have the opportunity to choose from four custom-designed screen-printed T-shirts honoring the series, available exclusively that evening; transform themselves into the undead after visiting a Walking Dead-inspired walker make-up station; enjoy the Commonwealth’s “Taste of Tradition” ice cream flavors, along with themed beverages and food; and participate in a Commonwealth-inspired lottery for additional giveaways.

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The “Tales of the Walking Dead” panel takes place at 12:30 p.m. PT Friday, July 22 in Hall H. The panel will introduce fans to this new episodic anthology consisting of six original one-hour standalone episodes focused on both new and established characters within the walker apocalypse. The stakes are high in each story, pushing new, indelible characters with relentless, life-threatening choices and situations as we get to see the apocalypse through different eyes, discovering more worlds, mythos, and mysteries of the Walking Dead. Moderated by Chris Hardwick (“Talking Dead”), the panel will feature chief content officer of the “Walking Dead” universe, Scott M. Gimple, showrunner and executive producer Channing Powell, director and executive producer Michael Satrazemis, and cast members Terry Crews (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Samantha Morton (“The Walking Dead,” “Harlots”) and Danny Ramirez (Top Gun: Maverick), with additional cast pending.

The panel for “The Walking Dead” season 11C will take follow at 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 22 in Hall H, also moderated by Hardwick. Gimple will be joined by showrunner and executive producer Angela Kang, executive producer, director and special effects makeup supervisor Greg Nicotero, and cast members Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Christian Serratos, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Seth Gilliam, Josh McDermitt, Michael James Shaw, Cailey Fleming and Lauren Ridloff as they answer fan questions, share behind-the-scenes stories about filming the final season, and reveal the highly anticipated trailer for season 11.

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The “Queer for Fear” panel takes place at 4:45 p.m. PT on Friday, July 22, in room 6A, focusing on the upcoming Shudder Original four-part documentary series about the history of Queer people in the thriller/horror genre. The discussion includes executive producers Bryan Fuller and Steak House, interviewee and filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, and interviewee and podcaster Renée “Nay” Bever.

“Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire” panel takes place at 2 p.m. PT Saturday, July 23, in Ballroom 20. The highly anticipated first series in AMC Networks’ Anne Rice collection makes its Comic-Con panel debut with executive producer Mark Johnson, showrunner Rolin Jones, cast members Sam Reid, Jacob Anderson, Bailey Bass and Eric Bogosian, and production designer Mara LePere Schloop, as they discuss bringing the world of early 1900s New Orleans to life and debuting a first official series trailer.

 

Season Two of ‘The Walking Dead: World Beyond’ Heading to Blu-ray and DVD March 8

RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, will release The Walking Dead: World Beyond — Final Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 8. The second and final season of the horror series aired on AMC Networks in October 2021.

Set in the same universe as “The Walking Dead,” the second season of “World Beyond” concludes the story of Iris (Aliyah Royale), Hope (Alexa Mansour), Elton (Nicolas Cantu) and Silas (Hal Cumpston) — four friends who journeyed across the country on a mission that transformed everything they knew about themselves and the world. As they face off against the mysterious Civic Republic Military and fight for control of their own destiny, goals will shift, bonds will form and crumble, and innocence will be both lost and found.

The cast also includes Nico Tortorella, Annet Mahendru and Julia Ormond.

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AMC Networks Says SVOD Properties to Reach 9 Million Subs by Year’s End

AMC Networks Nov. 5 said expects its branded subscription streaming video services to reach 9 million combined subscribers by the end of the year. SVOD services include Acorn TV, AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel).

The notable sub driver for AMC+ was the Aug. 22 Season 11 premiere of “The Walking Dead,” which was a top driver of subscriber acquisition and viewership on the platform, according to AMC.

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Acorn and ALLBLK come from AMC’s 2018 acquisition of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment for $65 million.

“We are building a streaming business that is sustainable and will be profitable over the long term, and with our owned IP, our library of high-quality content, and our strong legacy channels business, we have the right assets to drive growth and increase shareholder value,” CEO Matt Blank said in a statement.

Verizon Offering Free 12 Months to AMC+ Streaming Service

Verizon’s portfolio of free subscription streaming services offered to new phone, wireless and broadband subs has a new member. Starting Aug. 12, new Fios customers at all speeds, or customers with select Verizon Unlimited plans, can receive up to 12 months of AMC+, the platform featuring content from AMC Network, Shudder, Sundance Now, IFC Films Unlimited, including early access to episodes of the final season of “The Walking Dead,” beginning Aug. 15.

Verizon made headlines in 2019 when it offered its customers free 12 months to upstart streaming service Disney+, a strategy that helped the Disney SVOD jumpstart subscription. The promotion also includes Hulu and ESPN+. Separately, Verizon offers six free months access to Apple TV+.

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“Enhancing the way that fans enjoy their beloved content is at the center of what we do at Verizon,” said Erin McPherson, head of content partnerships at Verizon.

Eligible Verizon customers will be able to stream the final season of “The Walking Dead” premiere one week before it appears on television.

“Over the last year, we have seen tremendous interest in AMC+ from consumers and our distribution partners, and the launch of this new partnership with Verizon couldn’t be better timed,” said Josh Reader, president of distribution and development for AMC Networks.

AMC programming includes “Mad Men,” “Rectify,” “Orphan Black,” “Portlandia,” “Hell on Wheels,” “NOS4A2,” among many others. The service also offers a growing slate of original and exclusive series, including “Gangs of London,” “The North Water,” “The Beast Must Die,” “The Salisbury Poisonings,” “Cold Courage,” “Spy City,” “Too Close” and the forthcoming drama “Kin.”

When activating a new line, a new or existing Verizon customer who purchases a 5G phone with a device payment plan on a Play More, Do More, or Get More Unlimited plan gets 12 months of AMC+. Existing customers on Verizon Unlimited plans get six months of free streaming.

When all promotional periods end, subscribers are automatically rolled over into $8.99 monthly subscription plan unless deactivated by the customer.

New Verizon Fios customers who sign up for one of the new Mix & Match on Fios home Internet plans — with no data caps and no annual contracts — get 12 months of AMC+.

Customers who sign up for Fios Gigabit may also be eligible for other perks of Fios, including a free Samsung Chromebook, Verizon Whole-Home Wi-Fi for getting better coverage in more areas of the home, and 2TB of Verizon Cloud storage.

AMC Networks’ $200 Million ‘Walking Dead’ Settlement Includes Future Streaming Rev-Sharing

AMC Networks’ $200 million settlement announced July 16 with former “The Walking Dead” showrunner Frank Darabont and talent agency Creative Artists Agency includes future streaming video revenue-sharing for the series and spin-off show, “Fear the Walking Dead.”

The agreement enables AMC to avoid a scheduled April 4, 2022, trial date that had consolidated two separate breach of contract lawsuits filed by Darabont and CAA against AMC.

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“With regard to the ‘settlement payment,’ the company has taken a charge of approximately $143 million in the quarter ended June 30, in consideration for the extinguishment of plaintiffs’ rights to any compensation in connection with ‘The Walking Dead’ and any related programs and the dismissal of the actions with prejudice, which amount is net of approximately $57 million of ordinary course accrued participations,” AMC disclosed in the regulatory filing.

AMC updated its fiscal 2021 guidance, contending the settlement would effectively negate any free cash flow in the fiscal year.

Darabont adapted “The Walking Dead” for AMC in 2010 based on the comic book series penned by Robert Kirkman. Darabont was fired early in the second season of the burgeoning hit due to conflicts with AMC.

“Walking Dead” would go on to become one of the biggest shows ever on television, DVD/Blu-ray Disc and Netflix, with the original series slated to end following the 11th season, which begins Aug. 22. Multiple spin-off shows will continue thereafter.

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 10 Due on Disc July 20

Lionsgate will release The Walking Dead: The Complete Tenth Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD July 20.

The collection includes all 22 episodes from the extended 10th season, in which the collected communities prepare for war against the brutal Whisperers. Additional episodes include the flashback episode “Here’s Negan,” which presents the origin story of the fan-favorite character played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

The season also sees the departure of Michonne, played by Danai Gurira, and the return of Maggie, played by Lauren Cohan.

Other cast members include Norman Reedus, Christian Serratos, Samantha Morton, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Cooper Andrews and Khary Payton.

Blu-ray and DVD extras include audio commentaries and an “In Memoriam” featurette. The Blu-ray will also include digital copies of the episodes.

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