AMC Networks is planning to launch a cheaper, ad-supported tier for its AMC+ streaming platform later this year.
The new tier, which is expected to launch by October, will be pitched at the company’s 2023-2024 upfront, which will include a presentation in New York on Tuesday. Pricing for the tier was not disclosed.
“This is a big moment for AMC Networks and for our advertising partners, because it not only creates a fully-ad supported distribution ecosystem, it also allows advertisers to buy our shows, genres and franchises in a much more comprehensive and impactful way,” AMC Networks chief commercial officer Kim Kelleher said in a statement. “With our new series content, library titles and other targeted streaming platforms that are all bundled into AMC+, partners can move beyond individual shows and even series and choose to ‘own’ whole genres and franchises, and drive messaging to target audiences no matter what they are watching or where. We’ve never been able to offer this level of sweeping yet highly focused reach before in such an effective and comprehensive way.”
Targeted streaming services Shudder, IFC Films Unlimited and Sundance Now, which are currently accessed through the AMC+ bundle (as opposed to being purchased individually), will also be included in the ad-supported tier, which will extend buying reach across those services focused on horror, the best in independent film and international drama.
AMC Networks is the latest to take advantage of ad-supported streaming, following similar moves by Netflix and Disney+ over the past six months.
AMC+, which currently costs $8.99 per month, features a continually refreshed library of commercial-free content, with iconic series from the AMC Networks portfolio including “Mad Men,” “Halt & Catch Fire,” “Hell on Wheels,” “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” “Rectify,” “Portlandia,” and series from “The Walking Dead Universe,” among many others.
The service also offers a growing slate of original and exclusive series including “Gangs of London,” “This is Going to Hurt,” “Dark Winds,” and the first two series in a new Anne Rice universe, “Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire” and “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches.”
In November, AMC Networks chairman James Dolan told employees that the company’s losses on the cable side were not being made up by its streaming increases.
“It was our belief that cord cutting losses would be offset by gains in streaming. This has not been the case,” he wrote in a memo. “We are primarily a content company and the mechanisms for the monetization of content are in disarray.”
In response, the company announced a “large-scale layoff” affecting about 20% of AMC Networks’ staff and “cuts to every operating area.” It also pulled the plug on Season 2 of “61st Street” starring Courtney B. Vance, which had already been filmed, and axed previously greenlit series “Invitation to a Bonfire” with Tatiana Maslany, which had already shot four episodes. Additionally, AMC tapped Kristin Dolan to lead the company’s transformation as its new chief executive officer following the departure of former CEO Christina Spade.
During the fourth quarter, AMC reported a $403.8 million content write-off, which accounted for the bulk of restructuring charges that led to a net loss of $264.7 million. Streaming revenue for AMC+ and a collection of specialty services increased 41% year over year with total subscribers of 11.8 million at the end of the quarter.
Shares of AMC have climbed approximately 33% year to date.