Sapan: AMC Networks Underpriced by Traditional Distributors

Says must-see shows give programmer leverage

AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan said that when it comes to affiliate payments, the programmer's networks are “dramatically” underpriced by traditional video distributors.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia conference in New York Wednesday (Sept. 21), Sapan said traditional MVPDs pay 25% of what they pay for other network groups.

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“They think we’re more valuable [than other groups], even at 25% of what they’re paying for others,” Sapan said.

At a time when analysts and investors are concerned that affiliate revenue growth will slow or go down because of industry consolidation or cord cutting, Sapan assured the audience that AMC’s revenues were heading in the right direction.

AMC’s networks, including AMC, had very low affiliate fees until the company began its strategy of airing and owning more high-quality original content, such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad. With The Walking Dead, the company has a must-see show that means cable operators must carry it, giving AMC more leverage.

Even so, Sapan noted that change doesn’t come fast in the cable world.