New CEO Kristin Dolan Prepares AMC Networks for ‘Streaming Bundle’ Future

Kristin Dolan 605
Kristin Dolan (Image credit: 605)

In her first earnings call since becoming CEO of AMC Networks, Kristin Dolan described her plan to prepare the company to survive as the industry shifts to streaming bundles.

Dolan, wife of chairman James Dolan, whose family controls the company, introduced herself to investors and analysts as knowing the company well, having started at AMC Networks when it was part of Cablevision Systems and serving on its board of directors.

“My background in programming, cable operations and more recently data and analytics around viewership and advertising gives me a clear and actionable perspective on the opportunity we have here,” she said.

Some analysts say AMC is too small to survive in the streaming era and will be swallowed up by a bigger company. Last November it slashed costs, laying off about 20% of its staff and cutting back on its programming spending.

Dolan said that when she looks at AMC Networks, “I don’t just see a content company. I see a technology-focused company that delivers its content across an expanding number of platforms here and around the world.”

She said she wants to build a nimble, fast-moving organization that relies heavily on data to “grow audiences, serve brands and build value for our advertising and distribution partners,” adding that the company needs to have a “retail mindset” to serve customers in the new ways they consume content.

As cord-cutting has decimated cable networks, AMC has looked to pivot with its own set of streaming services and by distributing its content over new platforms, including free ad-supported streaming TV channels.

“AMC has a track record as a sought-after and innovative strategic partners for distributors,” she said, announcing the company recently reached a deal with Dish Network and its Sling TV for continued carriage of AMC’s channel portfolio, streaming services and FAST channels. The deal also expanded AMC’s advanced advertising relationship with Dish.

“It is our longstanding distribution relationships that we believe will form the foundation of what is a forthcoming shift to streaming bundles,” Dolan said. “These bundles are beginning to gain traction as the marketplace evolves and consumers seek a more simplified and integrated experience when it comes to managing their various services. With our high-quality content and distinct brands, AMC Networks occupies a prime position for this inevitable shift.”

AMC lost streaming subscribers, finishing with 11.5 million at the end of the quarter, but Dolan said that the goal was to attract higher-value subscribers.

“Building a more valuable customer base is something I’m very familiar with from my Cablevision days, where we drove higher revenue-per-subscriber results quarter over quarter, year over year.”

AMC chief financial officer Patrick O’Connell said that the loss of subscribers from the end of 2022 to the end of the first quarter was largely due to that focus on higher value subscribers and a roll-off of holiday promotional subscribers.

“The rationalization of our subscriber base, along with pricing actions taken last year, increase the average revenue we generate per subscriber,” O’Connell said. 

At the same time, AMC’s streaming services are programmed efficiently in order to be profitable. “If you look at the top five titles for each of our targeted services in the month of March, 18 of the 20 title cost less than $1 million an episode and some substantially less than that,” he said. “This is a powerful illustration of the economic advantage of our strategic approach to the streaming business.”

Analysts asked how the Writers Guild of America strike would affect AMC.

“We’re very well-positioned for all of this year and into next year, so we have no real concerns about the writers’ strike at this point,” Dolan said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.