Analyst: AMC's TV triumph is getting torn apart by services like Netflix

Netflix giveth and Netflix taketh away.

That’s the thrust of a recent Pacific Crest analyst note, in which Andy Hargreaves and Evan Wingren wrote that cable TV network AMC’s prospects are looking dire.

AMC is a network that has built its recent success out of high-quality dramas like “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” and “The Walking Dead.” AMC execs have also credited Netflix viewers for helping launch “Breaking Bad” as a cultural phenomenon. “I think Netflix kept us on the air,” “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan once said.

But now the rise of streaming services like Netflix might be tearing AMC down.

“Average audiences for almost every returning AMC original in 2016 are down double-digits versus 2015,” the Pacific Crest analysts wrote. “This highlights the increase in competition for viewer time. In particular, the explosion in high-quality original dramas driven by [streaming video on demand] companies [like Netflix] has commoditized an area of programming that AMC helped popularise and represents the core of the network’s brand.”

Here is a chart of the performance of AMC’s returning shows:

Not good! And here’s a chart of AMC’s new shows:

Pacific Crest’s thesis is that there are simply too many good serialized dramas being produced, especially by streaming services, and AMC is suffering from the glut. Pacific Crest had been hopeful that AMC’s strength of programming would continue to help it prosper, but now the analysts are significantly lowering their ad revenue estimates going forward, and think “continued declines for existing AMC programming are likely.”

There was one bright spot according to Pacific Crest, however.

“Despite very weak trends in original performance overall in 2016, we expect the premiere of The Walking Dead Season 7 this Sunday night (Oct. 23) to perform relatively well. The show demonstrated evidence of stability in average audience through the second half of Season 6, and a notable cliffhanger around who Negan killed should fuel viewership for the new season.”

But that is cold comfort for a business they believe will continue to bleed.

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