Acquisitions on the Agenda as AMC / Sundance Looks for More Int’l Expansion

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HONG KONG — AMC / Sundance Channel is on the lookout for further international expansion, especially in Asia and Latin America, says president Bruce Tuchman. Acquisitions may be on the agenda.

“We’d be looking at any well-valued business that can be tucked in and take what we do to the next level,” said Tuchman Wednesday at the CASBAA convention in Hong Kong.

The company is currently on an expansionary tear. It has added a raft of carriage deals in Latin America already this year and in the past 12 months has acquired Cello Media, 49% of BBC America, and German movie channel Kinowelt TV.

Tuchman said that the company had spent a year digesting Cello, its biggest ever deal outside the U.S., and that the rebranding of its MGM Channel as AMC will now go ahead in international territories on Dec. 31.

Sundance and AMC will be the twin pillars of the group’s offering, along with “authenticated on-demand and authenticated TV everywhere.” “Both channels will remain, as they are in the States, [focussed] mainly on films, but they will be punctuated by great original series.”

“We’ve only been in the international business for the past 4 or 5 years. So we have some level of regret that a lot of shows we are famous for are on other people’s channels. And they are very happy with that. So be it. We are happy with that too. It has created a nice set of valuation for our business and given us kudos as producers.

“Now going forward we will own and control more of our product as we have a huge distribution platform through Sundance, through the Cello channels we’ve acquired. Its big, its growing and we now have a way to hold on to our own product. That’s an important goal for the company.”

Tuchman said that linear TV still has plenty of room for growth, especially in Asia and Latin America.

“That’s one of the reasons we’ve moved so decisively into the international business. In the U.S. the total number of pay-TV households has been stagnant. But the growth here in Asia is enormous.”

Tuchman forecast that there will continue to be a migration of talent from cinema to TV. “There are some good sign, but also some complexities. For a lot of people it is easier for us to remember the shows that were nominated for an Emmy this year than for an Oscar. The whole idea of being exposed to cinematic quality content means the initiative is shifting to TV.

“If you think about ‘Breaking Bad’ you have spent at least 100 hours with Walter White, prior to that you saw Marlon Brando in ‘The Godfather’ for 40 minutes. So the way you can etch a character with nuance, and the demands that makes on the people writing the screenplays, and the production values, it is such a step up. We’ll be seeing more of that.

“There’s no cap on, but the supply side is interesting because if you look at the amount of original narrative fiction, one hour series in the U.S. the supply has more than doubled. And while the demand will continue it will be interesting making hits with so much good content out there.”

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