In his new role, Engler will oversee development and programming strategy for the service, as well as the introduction of new content formats. He will report to Linda Pan, senior vice president of new digital business for AMC Networks.
“Shudder is an amazing property in an amazing spot,” Engler told Variety. “There’s not too many successful SVOD services to begin with. This one super-serves genres fans and fans of thrillers, which is a great place to be in. It’s an audience that’s under-served. They have an amazing team. My job is to build on their success with movies and series, broadening the genre a little.”
Prior to joining Shudder, Engler spent 15 years as a senior executive at Syfy. There he co-created and executive produced the series “Z Nation,” which was recently renewed for a fifth season. Among the shows he helped launch at the cable channel were “Battlestar Galactica,” “Steven Spielberg Presents Taken,” “Dune,” “Defiance,” “Warehouse 13,” and “Eureka.” He also served as senior vice president and GM of Syfy Digital.
“We were excited to find Craig,” said Paul Rehrig executive vice president of business development at AMC Networks. “One of the things we like about Craig is that he’s not a traditional, dyed in the wool horror aficionado. He has a much more diverse background. His experience and time at Syfy network speaks to that. We want the Shudder audience to grow beyond where we were when we launched a couple years ago, where we were very narrowly focused on hardcore horror fans. We now believe we have an offering that has a much broader appeal, and we want to continue expanding.”
AMC Networks launched Shudder in 2015. It is one of two boutique subscription streaming services owned by the company, the other being SundanceNow. AMC declined to reveal subscriber data for either service. But, Rehrig said, “We see them as being very strong, meaningful brands today with a huge upside to continue to grow tomorrow.” Shudder is live in the U.S. and in several other countries, with AMC plotting more international growth for the service in the near future.
With Engler leading development, AMC Networks is looking to grow the service’s original-content offerings. Shudder is in early development on multiple scripted projects, including shows on budgetary par with series on Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services.
“A successful original product for us isn’t just one that a ton of our existing members watch, although that’s certainly a great indicator of success,” Engler said. “It also has to work for us in terms of new member acquisition.”