AMC Eyes New Ways to Milk Zombie Hit 'The Walking Dead'

Licensing, Merchandising, Gaming and Live Events

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Credit: Gene Page/AMC

AMC Networks is looking at ways to continue pumping more money from "The Walking Dead," the top-rated scripted show on all of TV among 18-to-49-year-olds.

Aside from creating spinoffs such as "Fear the Walking Dead," which will be expanded to 15 episodes next year from six in its first season, AMC Networks is looking at ramping up licensing, merchandising and gaming, Chief Financial Officer Sean Sullivan said Wednesday in Barcelona. Live events are also under consideration.

"We really are treating it as a franchise," Mr. Sullivan said at an investor conference hosted by Morgan Stanley. "It's more than a TV show."

Merchandise around "The Walking Dead," which originated as a comic-book series, already includes special editions of Monopoly and Yahtzee; action figures and playsets; icecube trays and gelatin molds; prose novelizations; and videogames for smartphones, the Xbox and the PlayStation.

"The Walking Dead" is in its sixth season. AMC also airs "Better Call Saul," a prequel to its hit "Breaking Bad," as well as "Talking Dead," a chat show about the zombie series that draws more viewers than most original shows.

AMC Networks has had to weather the conclusion of several of its biggest series in the past two years, including "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," and its subscribers have shrunk 5.2% to 93.8 million over that time, according to Nielsen data cited by Bloomberg Intelligence.

There is "great demand" for original series like those AMC is producing even as the number of scripted drama shows has strongly increased, Mr. Sullivan said.

-- Bloomberg News with Ad Age staff

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