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AMC Networks Chief Says ‘Walking Dead’ Remains ‘Rich With Opportunity’

AMC Networks believes that there is life after “The Walking Dead.”

CEO Josh Sapan reassured a Wall Street-heavy crowd on Wednesday that the cable channel has enough programming to withstand the eventual loss of its biggest ratings hit. The network has found success with the zombie spin-off “Fear the Walking Dead,” and is also attracting an audience to another supernatural horror series, “Preacher,” which launched last month.

Sapan told the audience at the Bernstein Research’s Strategic Decisions Conference that “The Walking Dead” is “…spawning benefits that are related to it, adjacent to it, but not it,” adding that “It remains rich with opportunity.”

In an age of digital disruption, when consumers have grown accustomed to watching shows on different devices at a time and place of their choosing, branding is a media company’s most important asset. It’s critical to have an audience that responds passionately to a company’s products, much as certain readers do to the New Yorker, he argued. That kind of bond helps a company weather a fractured media landscape.

At AMC’s flagship channel and at IFC, Sapan cited “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “Portlandia” as being the types of shows that have given the company an imprimatur of excellence.

“[The shows] suggested some continuity of quality,” said Sapan.

The AMC chief wasn’t just interested in drawing analogies with print publications. He was willing to tip the hat to a rival to illustrate his point.

“HBO has a very strong record,” said Sapan. “It’s a place people trust and expect to have good content.”

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