Listen: AMC Networks’ Sarah Barnett on Finding TV’s ‘Holy Grail’

Sarah BarnettAMC - SundanceTV 'State of
David Buchan/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Sarah Barnett’s new job at AMC Networks has her overseeing four cable channels and two streaming platforms. She’s spent the past few months since her promotion to president of entertainment networks adjusting operations, assembling the right team and diving deeper into AMC’s investment in audience research and analytic tools.

But none of that work matters unless AMC delivers on the most tangible and intangible assets that drive a content company: A hit television show. AMC Networks has a hot property at present in “Killing Eve,” the twisty serial assassin drama that caught fire last year and has become a “calling card” for the AMC family of channels.

“The impact the show has not just on the (ad) pricing that our sales teams are able to get, but the way it opens doors to talk about other things across the portfolio of our networks is really quite something,” Barnett says in the latest edition of “Strictly Business,” Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment.

“On the most mega-business level, the stamp that this show has had continues to mark AMC Networks as a company that punches above its weight,” Barnett said. “There’s no substitute for something that becomes a true cultural conversation point. That’s the holy grail.”

The executive who oversees AMC, BBC America, SundanceTV and IFC details the reasons why Season 2 of the series is airing simultaneously on BBC America and AMC.

“The new structure puts four networks together and gives us the ability to really understand how and where our audiences between the four brands overlap, and how and where they’re different,” she said. “We think there’s a lot of opportunity to flow shows around (among) our platforms, informed by some really quite forensic understanding (of viewing trends),” Barnett says. “And some experimentation.”

Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.