Following through on plans first announced last spring, AMC Networks said this evening it has officially begun rolling out a cheaper, ad-supported tier of flagship streaming service AMC+.
The $5-a-month subscription option (well below the current ad-free rate of $9) are initially available via AMC Networks direct-to-consumer platforms and apps. It will expand to third-party distributors in the coming weeks, the company said.
With an ad load described as “light” — no more than five minutes of ads per hour — the new version of AMC+ will feature the same series and film titles that are offered on the ad-free version, whose pricing will not change. Full-year subscriptions to the ad tier will go for $83.88.
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AMC+ is a bundled service, encompassing a selection of programming from linear channels AMC, BBC America, IFC and Sundance TV and full access to company-owned streaming services Shudder, Sundance Now and IFC Films Unlimited.
The management team of AMC Networks has been drawing attention to the launch over the past several months. With 11 million subscribers across more than a half-dozen targeted services, AMC Networks is playing a different game than its larger media rivals. CEO Kristin Dolan, addressing Wall Street analysts last month on the company’s second-quarter earnings call, reiterated the strategy. “We really have a different sort of economic structure with our services that are more targeted towards specific genres and specific types of subscribers,” she said. “We don’t try to be something for everyone.”
Most original series appearing on AMC+ cost less than $1 million per episode to produce, Dolan added, meaning the company is taking a “measured, opportunistic and disciplined” approach to the direct-to-consumer business.
The latest move brings advertising to the one part of the company’s overall operation where it hasn’t previously been delivered. AMC+ launched in 2020 and has quickly become the largest streaming outlet in the company fold. As it continues to push its subscription streaming offerings, AMC Networks has also been emphasizing the free, ad-supported streaming TV arena, or FAST. Like other media companies, AMC is navigating through a period of declining linear tune-in and cord-cutting as well as turbulence in the ad market. Ad revenue slumped 17% year-over-year in the most recent quarter, though streaming revenues grew an encouraging 13%.
Kim Kelleher, the company’s Chief Commercial Officer, said the new ad tier will be a valuable complement to other business lines at AMC Networks. It will enable the company to “fully leverage the reach and appeal of our high-quality shows and connect with viewers wherever and however they choose to watch.”
On the quarterly earnings call, Kelleher said the announcement of the forthcoming tier had sparked “a lot of demand and interest” among advertisers in the upfront marketplace.
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