AMC: Transformation from a sleepy Movie Channel to brilliant Production House

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

imagesFor years, AMC has always been that channel that showed the classic movies my mom used to love.  AMC stands for American Movie Classics and for the first part of their history, they stayed true to that vision with great thrillers, cowboy movies, and dramas from the 1940s and 1950s.  But like most cable TV channels, AMC seems to have meandered away from their original intent.  

When you figure A&E (Arts and Entertainment) shows “Storage Wars” and “Duck Dynasty” (not exactly Arts), TLC (The Learning Channel) shows “Honey Boo Boo” and “Alaskan Women Looking for Love” (both shows seem to be the opposite of Learning), we can see how these channels move to where the money can be found.  These feel like complete sell-outs, going against the original vision of the channels.  

AMC hits the Wall in 2002

So when AMC hit that wall where they weren’t generating enough funding, you could have expected them to sell out like those other channels.  But AMC went the other way, making the decision in to start producing original programming–and not just your average shows.   mad-men-1AMC has produced three TV series that have been ground-breaking, high risk and equally high quality in the writing, production and acting.  Mad Men, started in 2007, was the first AMC show to break through and has won numerous awards, capturing an urban audience.  

Then Breaking Bad hit in 2008, capturing a broader audience, a complex story line, high character development against a back drop of crystal meth.  And the third hit, The Walking Dead, started in 2010, has a more niche audience but is quickly broadening as word spreads among the youthful audience.  All three shows are truly beloved TV shows, regarded as the best dramas of this generation.  

AMC has quickly become the Miramax of TV, where you start to think of it as a trusted entity of quality production.  So when new shows come, like “Low Winter Sun” or “Better Call Saul” (the spin-off from Breaking Bad), we might be willing to give them a look based on the credibility they’ve earned from the other shows.  

The connectivity to a show like Breaking Bad is insane. On IMBD, the third last episode of Breaking Bad scored a weighted average score of 10/10 with 96% of the 32,000 people giving it a score of 10. Given how numbers work, where it’s hard to get people to agree on anything, that’s crazy.  But the peak of Breaking Bad has now come at the end of the show, and AMC needs to use that momentum to drive new programming back into the brand.  

So where does AMC go next?

But, since a Brand can only occupy one part of our brain, the AMC brand needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up.  These new shows are making AMC famous, but can’t fill in the complete schedule yet.  We can now see that AMC has made the decision to dial-up the movie half to fit in with the shows at least.  

No more “Three Stooges” but rather movies that fit the “Breaking Bad” type audience with movies such as The Godfather, Lord of the Rings and The Italian Job on the schedule.  This will keep the demographic tighter for both the audience and selling advertising space.  No more ads for walk in shower and more ads for Call of Duty.  

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If we look at the 5 connections of a Beloved Brand, we see that AMC has done a good job on all 5 connections and has a real point of momentum in the market–both with consumers who watch the shows and the internal Hollywood community who produce the shows.

Now the pressure of the brand has to go internally to take the revenue and fame of the AMC brand to drive even greater original programming.  Leverage the good will among the hollywood community to get writers, directors and actors to commit to wanting to be part of AMC brand.  The Hollywood community knows that if you’re part of a Miramax project, it increases your possibility for an Oscar.  

AMC has the chance to own the Emmy’s in the same way.  But now that Breaking Bad is done, Mad Men is nearing an end and Walking Dead is at its peak, now is the time to drive that freshness index for new shows to keep the momentum of this new AMC brand going strong.  

A continual stream of innovation is not easy–it must come from the culture and operations of the brand.  

So,what’s Next for AMC?

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 

 

You will find this type of thinking in my book, Beloved Brands.

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