IMDb TV Gets ‘The Walking Dead Universe Experience’

AMC Networks’ record-breaking zombie series “The Walking Dead” has been given expanded pay-TV life via an 11th season (30 episodes) split over two years through 2022. And monetization of past episodes and the brand via third-party over-the-top video distribution is becoming its own expanding ecosystem.

AMC Sept. 11 announced a deal with Amazon-owned IMDb TV, the ad-supported “Free Television” video-on-demand platform, for “The Walking Dead Universe Experience,” among six content channels joining the platform. The “Experience” will offer IMDb TV viewers exclusive access to select “Walking Dead” episodes, in addition to related series such as “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Ride With Norman Reedus,” and bonus material, cast interviews and related digital content.

IMDb TV is also getting AMC: Presents (movies and TV shows), Absolute Reality by WE tv, Rush by AMC (thrillers, action, and horror content), IFC Films Picks, and Slightly Off by IFC. The addition of AMC Networks bring to 20, the number of separate content channels available “live” (not VOD) via IMDb TV.

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“This comprehensive, tailored content solution for IMDb makes the great shows and franchises AMC Networks is known for available to even more fans and viewers and expands our programming footprint in a compelling way on an exciting and emerging platform,” Kim Kelleher, president of advertising sales and partnerships for AMC Networks, said in a statement.

The series has also given life to an expanding lucrative content ecosystem that currently includes “Talking Dead”; spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead,” returning for its sixth season on Oct. 11; “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” a new series about the first generation raised in the apocalypse, debuting Oct. 4; a feature film being produced by Universal Pictures, Skybound and AMC, focused on the Rick Grimes character played by Andrew Lincoln; a new spinoff planned for 2023 focused on the popular Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) characters; and the new “Tales of the Walking Dead” episodic anthology series.

“The Walking Dead” premiered on Halloween night in 2010 as the No. 1 cable series launch of all time, later surpassed by other AMC series “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” spin-off “Better Call Saul” and “Into the Badlands,” and is the most-watched series in cable history. It was also the first cable series to become the No. 1 show in all of television, including broadcast, a rank it held for five consecutive years. In its current 10th season, “The Walking Dead” remains the No. 1 series on basic cable for the 11th consecutive year. All of the top 73 cable entertainment telecasts for the past decade have been airings of “The Walking Dead.”

RLJ Entertainment Narrows Q1 Loss, Ups Revenue

AMC Networks subsidiary RLJ Entertainment May 1 recorded first-quarter (ended March 31) operating loss of $3 million, which was 51% less than the $6.1 million net loss from the previous-year period when the home entertainment distributor was a separate company. Revenue increased 19% to $22 million from $18.5 million last year.

Last Halloween, AMC acquired majority ownership of RLJE, making Robert L. Johnson’s namesake company a privately-owned subsidiary of AMC, with a 17% minority stake held by Johnson.

In addition to packaged media and digital distribution, AMC sought RLJE’s over-the-top video services — Acorn TV and Urban Movie Channel, which collectively have almost 1 million subscribers, and majority interest in Agatha Christie Limited.

Agatha Christie Limited generated operating income of $2 million.

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AMC’s other branded OTT ventures include Sundance Now and Shudder, which together with RLJE, AMC Networks International, IFC Films and production services company Levity Entertainment Group, generated an operating loss of $14 million on revenue of $171 million.

That compared to an operating loss of $17 million on revenue of $111.7 million during the previous-year period.

Overall, the network behind “The Walking Dead” and “Killing Eve,” reported net income of $143 million on revenue of $784 million. That compared to income of $157 million and revenue of $741 million last year.

“With our focused, well-priced and desirable collection of [business] assets, we occupy a differentiated space in the media landscape,” CEO Josh Sapan said in a statement.

AMC recently greenlit a third “Walking Dead” original series. “Fear the Walking Dead,” just began its fifth season. Launch date for 10th season of ‘The Walking Dead” hasn’t been announced.

RLJ Entertainment Posts $5 Million Q4 Operating Loss

AMC Networks subsidiary RLJ Entertainment posted a fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) operating loss of $5 million on revenue of $28 million. The home entertainment unit generated net income of $3.8 million on revenue of $32.7 million during the previous-year period as a separate publicly traded company.

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AMC acquired controlling interest in RLJE from BET founder Robert L. Johnson last October for $59 million – largely for its Acorn TV SVOD service and majority stake in Agatha Christie Limited. AMC reported adjusted operating income $3 million for Agatha Christie Limited during the quarter.

Indeed, Amazon Prime Video and BBC One in the United Kingdom adapted Agatha Christie’s “The ABC Murders” into an eponymous mini-series  currently streaming and starring John Malkovich as detective Hercule Poirot.

AMC said its “international and other” business segment — which includes RLJE – increased fourth quarter revenue 48.6% to $188 million, while upping operating loss $29 million to $48 million. Adjusted operating income increased 43.9% to $9 million, all compared to the prior-year period.

“The strength of our balance sheet allows us to continue to pursue smart and strategic investments that are changing our business, including our acquisition last year of RLJ Entertainment, which is meaningfully advancing our direct-to-consumer interests, a key priority as we continue to diversify our revenue and grow our business,” Josh Sapan, CEO of AMC Networks, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, AMC, which airs three of the top six dramas on ad-supported cable – “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” and “Better Call Saul” – reported Q4 net income of $71.8 million on revenue of $773 million. That compared to income of $145.5 million on revenue of $727 million last year.

For the fiscal year, AMC generated income of $446 million on revenue of nearly $3 billion, which compared to income of $471 million and revenue of $2.8 billion in 2017.

‘La Casa De Papel’ Tops Digital Originals Chart, Parrot Analytics Says

The Spanish limited series “Money Heist” (“La Casa De Papel”) vaulted to the No. 1 spot on the digital originals chart for the week ended April 14, a week after it debuted at No. 3.

The crime heist drama posted a 21% spike in popularity, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

Netflix bought global distribution rights to the series earlier this year and re-edited the original run of nine episodes into 15 different untitled episodes, released as two seasons. Netflix released the second season on April 6 with a runtime of 40 to 50 minutes instead of the original 70 minutes per episode.

“Stranger Things,” also a Netflix series, slipped to No. 2 on the top 10 digital originals chart, with demand dropping 17.9%.

A third Netflix digital original, “On My Block,” slipped to No. 3 as demand fell a modest 5.4%. One week earlier, the coming-of-age series – which debuted on Netflix on March 16 – shot up to No. 2 from No. 5, with a 12.5% demand increase.

New to the digital originals chart is “Trailer Park Boys,” which debuted at No. 8, on the heels of a new season bowing on Netflix on March 30.

Meanwhile, on the overall TV series chart, “Spongebob Squarepants” and “The Walking Dead” remain at No. 1 and No. 2 for the third consecutive week. Demand for “Spongebob” was only down a fraction of 1%, but demand for “The Walking Dead” was off 7.5%.

Moving up to No. 3 on the overall TV series chart was “American Idol,” with demand up 7.7%. A week before, “American Idol” posted an 8.4% increase in demand and moved up the chart to No. 4 from No. 5.

New to the top 10 the week ended April 14 was NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” bowing at No. 4. The series posted the highest bump in demand from the prior week, 63%. It’s prior-week ranking was No. 17.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

 

‘Stranger Things’ the Week’s Top Digital Original, But Demand for ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Soars

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” took the No. 1 spot on the top 10 digital originals chart for the week ended March 31, bumping Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” to No. 2 after three weeks in the top position, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

Digital original hits such as “Stranger Things,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Orange is the New Black” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” all registered an increase in demand from the prior week, Parrot data shows.

“13 Reasons Why” rose to No. 3 from No. 7 the prior week and No. 9 the week before, while “Orange is the New Black” slipped to No. 7 from No. 4, despite a modest 2.6% increase in demand.

Netflix also saw two new entries in the top five. “Santa Clarita Diet” moved up to No. on the digital originals chart from No. 9 the previous week, while “On My Block” jumped to No. 5 from No. 9. Both shows saw demand rise by about 30% from the prior week.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been largely absent from the top 10 as it finished its sophomore season. But with new episodes returning April 25, the dystopian series saw its demand spike 86% – fueled, no doubt, by the March 28 release of a season three trailer. “The Handmaid’s Tale” debuted on the chart at No. 10.

On the overall TV series chart, “Spongebob Squarepants” returned to No. 1 after ceding the top spot last week to AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” now at No. 2.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

AMC Networks Remains Loyal to Pay-TV in OTT Market

In an over-the-top video era, going direct-to-consumer has become a key focus for media giants such as Disney, Time Warner and CBS.

For AMC Networks – home to original hit, “The Walking Dead” – remaining committed to traditional pay-TV distribution is as important as establishing OTT video platforms.

Speaking March 6 at the Deutsche Bank media, telecom & business services confab in Palm Beach, Fla., CFO Sean Sullivan said AMC has anticipated evolving consumer behavior toward digital distribution of entertainment.

“The trends haven’t been so surprising,” said Sullivan.

AMC operates SVOD services Sundance Now and horror-themed Shudder, in addition being majority owner of Acorn TV and  Urban Movie Channel with RLJ Entertainment. Last summer bowed ad-free AMC Premiere on Comcast, which Sullivan said was in part an attempt to be “sympathetic to our [pay-TV] distribution partners.”

The platform launches this year FuboTV and YouTube TV.

“As we evolve as a company, we’ve got a core business that’s performing well with great opportunities, and at the same time we’re investing in other opportunities where we think the consumer is going,” Sullivan said.

Since launching “The Walking Dead” as its first original content in 2009/10, AMC now produces more than 10 shows out of its Raleigh Studios in Atlanta for BBC America and Sundance, among others. It will spend more than $1 billion on content in 2018.

Indeed, licensing content to SVOD went from zero dollars in 2010 to “hundreds of millions of dollars” today, according to Sullivan.

“We think it’s a good piece of business,” he said. “The ability to increase content, increase output through multiple distribution platforms is a good place to be.”

Sullivan reiterated the market for scripted content has exploded and is more competitive. AMC now operates “writers rooms,” developing myriad scripts simultaneously as opposed to a single pilot.

It recently inked a slate relationship with Hulu, separate from an ongoing deal with Netflix for “Walking Dead.” With Netflix increasingly demanding – and getting global rights – to content, AMC opted for domestic-based Hulu.

“We felt Hulu was the appropriate and right partner in domestic SVOD as opposed to going global and wanting global rights,” Sullivan said. “They’ve been a good partner.”

At the end of the month, AMC will begin offering original period horror series, “The Terror” abroad on international channels and OTT. Original programing typically appears on SVOD nine months after the linear broadcast.

“We thought that was the right amount time, so we’re supporting our traditional pay-TV operators as well as making sure we’re maximizing revenue and value for the show,” Sullivan said.

At the same time, the CFO shot down speculation AMC would emulate Disney & Co. with branded OTT options.

“I don’t think it’s an eventuality as I sit here today, saying ‘am I going to offer an AMC linear viewing experience direct-to-consumer?’” Sullivan said. “That’s not something we’re looking do. I think AMC Premiere is a perfect vessel to do that.”

 

 

As Marvel Movie Draws Closer, Digital Originals Rise Up the Demand Chart

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery” remained at No. 1 on the digital originals chart for the week that ended March 3, but dropped from No. 1 to No. 5 on the overall TV shows chart, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

On the digital originals chart, the top five remain unchanged from the previous week, but they all lost a quarter of demand compared to last week since no new episodes have aired this year.

“Orange Is the New Black” jumped up a notch to No. 6 on the digital originals chart, displacing the nostalgic teen drama “Everything Sucks!,” which slipped to No. 8. “Everything Sucks!” suffered a 19% decrease in demand from the prior week, and with more original series premiering in March appears likely to drop off the chart.

A third Marvel superhero series entered the top 10 the week ended March 3: “The Punisher,” which joins “Jessica Jones” (No. 7, up a notch from the prior week) and “Daredevil” (which held steady at No. 9). All three series have new episodes in the pipeline. Season 2 of “Jessica Jones” arrives March 8, while a third season of “Daredevil” is expected later this year. A second season of “The Punisher” has also been ordered. All three series have experienced a roughly 20% week-on-week increase in demand. A demand uptick for Marvel/Netflix titles tends to happen around the release of significant Marvel motion picture releases, Parrot Analytics data shows; the next “Avengers” film is scheduled to open theatrically April 27.

On the overall chart, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” shot up to No. 1 from No. 2 the prior week, followed by “Game of Thrones” at No. 2, “SpongeBob SquarePants” at No. 3 and “Grey’s Anatomy” at No. 4. “The Walking Dead” appears to have experienced a renaissance in its popularity. The zombie franchise’s principal producer, Scott Gimple, has talked about plans for more spin-offs of the show in the future. The show, which is currently in its eighth season, already has one spin-off (“Fear the Walking Dead”), and there are discussions for more.

Two long-running reality titles reappeared on the chart. “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” popped back up at No. 8, perhaps due to a pregnancy, while competition format changes may have propelled “The Voice” back onto the chart at No. 10.