AMC Drops Already Filmed ’61st Street’ Season 2; Does HBO Max-Style Purge Mean Potential Sale is on the Way?
It has been a less than audacious start to the new year for AMC. The premium cable channel has canceled “Invitation to a Bonfire,” which had just begun production on its first season while also giving the axe to “61st Street,” which had already finished shooting its second season, according to a report from The Wrap.
The cancelation of these shows is part of a larger effort by AMC Networks to cut costs and make strategic programming assessments to save the company. AMC recently announced in an SEC filing that it was seeking up to $475 million in write-downs on its inventory of content across its family of cable networks, and its streaming service AMC+.
The content shuffles at AMC are starting to become reminiscent of the struggles HBO Max endured in the last year. The streamer saw severe cuts to its content library, amidst a need by CEO David Zaslav to find over $5 billion in savings after the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery was completed in spring of 2022.
While AMC is responding to it dire financial straits similarly to how Warner Bros. Discovery did, it may find digging out a little harder than Zaslav’s company did. For one thing, AMC is a much smaller company, and its main revenue stream is advertising money being brought in by its family of linear channels, which includes AMC, BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV, and WE tv. If content cuts ramp up at AMC in the coming months, it could be a sign of more trouble on the horizon.
Indeed, there are already warning signs close at hand. The live TV streaming service fuboTV dropped AMC Networks from its programming lineup at the beginning of the year. Such carriage disputes are fairly common in the industry, but combined with the announced content cuts, the news could signify the beginning of a snowball effect for AMC.
The real problem for the company is that it offers relatively niche content, spread across multiple cable networks at a time when pay-TV revenues and subscribers are falling faster than ever. The 11.1 million subscribers that AMC+ reported in its last quarterly earnings report are not nearly enough to make up for declining linear ad revenues.
That may be part of the reason why AMC is having difficulty retaining CEOs. On Nov. 29, the company lost its third chief executive in 15 months when Christina Spade stepped down. Some began to speculate that the departure marked the beginning of the end for AMC, and that speculation has only increased.
If AMC does implode in the near future, what could happen to its content library? It’s most likely to be picked up by Netflix, which has hosted hit AMC shows like “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead” in the past.
There is still time for a miraculous 11th-hour turnaround at AMC, but the portents grow darker around the company every day. Even an HBO Max-style content purge likely isn’t enough to save the company by itself, and AMC might be running out of even drastic measures to keep itself afloat for much longer.
AMC+ is a premium streaming bundle that includes the best from AMC, BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV, Shudder, Sundance Now, and IFC Films Unlimited containing original, award-winning series, popular movies, festival favorites, plus horror, sci-fi, true crime, and thrillers. You can subscribe to AMC+ for US$8.99 / month or save over 40% with the annual plan for US$59.88 / year.
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