What’s Next for AMC Networks as CEO Josh Sapan Exits – Sarkarijob

With TV trade veteran Josh Sapan leaving his president and CEO titles at AMC Networks after 26 years to turn out to be govt vice chairman, it’s the top of an period for the TV and streaming firm behind the likes of The Strolling Useless residence AMC and horror streamer Shudder. However at this second of transition, some Wall Road specialists see a possible sale of AMC Networks looming as the corporate searches for a brand new, everlasting CEO.

Sapan’s prolonged tenure noticed him lead, or tackle, broader trade developments. In late November of 1995, when Sapan was named chief of Rainbow Media after becoming a member of the corporate in 1987, he was stepping in for James Dolan. The agency was a unit of Cablevision Techniques that included networks like American Film Classics, Bravo, Impartial Movie Channel and SportsChannel.

The manager led by the expansion of cable networks — together with SundanceTV and We TV — transitioned Rainbow Media’s spin-off from cable operator Cablevision as content material and distribution companies went their separate methods and oversaw the corporate’s identify change to AMC Networks. Sapan honed in a concentrate on high-end drama at AMC that made it the belle of the premium TV ball. Extra just lately, the exec led on worldwide progress and growth of streaming providers, equivalent to Acorn TV, Allblk and AMC+, and plotted a “boutique” subscription progress plan.

A number of analysts lauded Sapan as a key determine in what has typically been known as the dawning of the “Golden Age of TV.”

“Sapan’s tenure is due a lot respect as he re-wrote the foundations of cable, turning AMC right into a status powerhouse,” Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall wrote in an Aug. 24 report. “In our view, Mad Males was a groundbreaking collection culturally, but in addition for the media trade as such status dramas had beforehand solely been the area of premium networks like HBO. Sapan and crew adopted up Mad Males with quite a few hits, together with Breaking Dangerous, The Strolling Useless, Higher Name Saul, Killing Eve, The Evening Supervisor, Brockmire and many others., thereby recasting AMC Networks’ cable networks into correct premium channels with sturdy model recognition.”

Moody’s analyst Neil Begley echoed that notion. “His entire MO was actually about creating the fundamental cable model of HBO, and he did it with exceptional success,” Begley tells Sarkarijob. “They only actually hit it out of the park, for years actually punching effectively above their weight class when it comes to content material choice and rising distribution.”

Former Showtime Networks CEO Matthew Clean will take over as interim CEO whereas the corporate searches for a full-time successor. Cahall lauded him as a “veteran for premium content material, together with stints at HBO” and 20 years as chairman and CEO of Showtime. Wall Road observers additionally talked about AMC Networks COO Ed Carroll as among the many attainable CEO candidates internally.

Sapan, 70, as a part of a two-year contract extension in December 2020, received the choice to segue from president and CEO to the vice chairman function in 2022. However in a regulatory submitting on Aug. 24, AMC Networks mentioned that timeframe had been moved up and in addition talked about that Sapan was set to work on movies. An modification to his employment contract states that “in every of the 2023 and 2024 calendar years, the corporate shall purchase at the very least three movies from these submitted by Mr. Sapan.”

However the truth that the schedule of his exit from the CEO function was moved up and Clean’s contract was for one 12 months made some Wall Road observers marvel if the chief change may imply {that a} sale could possibly be within the agency’s future.

Hal Vogel, CEO of Vogel Capital Administration and a former leisure trade analyst, referenced the truth that AMC, managed by the Dolan household, has for a very long time been seen as a possible takeover topic, due to its engaging content material and types, in addition to its lack of measurement in a fast-consolidating media sector. About the interim CEO resolution with Clean, Vogel famous: “I suppose, with none information, that this may be the opening spherical to promoting the corporate.”

Taking the reins of the corporate will present a variety of challenges. “Sapan shall be remembered for his show-picking prowess,” highlighted Cahall. “AMC Networks has traditionally had a fantastic batting common for content material. Sadly, some key collection are drawing to a detailed (e.g. the flagship The Strolling Useless), the world is making the streaming pivot costly and content material ‘scale’ continues to be a redefining time period as the massive get greater.” (To that time, The Strolling Useless fell to its smallest ever linear premiere on Aug. 22 with 2.2 million viewers, down from 4 million for season 10.)

Cahall added: “We predict Sapan’s successor will face the problem of carving out a distinct segment for the corporate within the subsequent period as quite a few providers look to encroach on shoppers’ time for authentic productions.”

That’s one more reason why AMC Networks has typically been seen as a takeover goal for leisure or know-how giants. Sapan, nevertheless, has typically argued the corporate is doing effectively in its area of interest, emphasizing the advantages of going it alone as a extra centered firm.

“We truly really feel higher than ever,” Sapan informed THR in an interview earlier this 12 months. “We have now all the time been about curation and about doing issues selectively. We have now by no means mentioned ‘we’re going to exit and be the massive monster of this.’ It’s not what now we have got down to do in linear or in streaming, truly the alternative. In a sure sense, our measurement is a bonus, as a result of we are able to have excessive affect on our enterprise.”

On condition that, Peter Csathy, chairman of advisory agency CreaTV Media, additionally noticed Sapan’s exit as a pure time for AMC Networks to confide in takeover approaches or a brand new kind of chief. “AMC is both signaling to the Road that it is able to promote or is attempting to do a ‘Kilar’ (as in AT&T’s WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar) – or hedging its bets by doing just a little of each,” he tells THR. AMC could use the transition interval with Clean in cost to “sign openness” on condition that “we’re within the midst of a media (deal) frenzy proper now.”

If a sale doesn’t occur although, AMC may hold going it alone in what Csathy calls “the Kilar 2.0 plan.” The corporate may in that situation “search for younger digital-native blood” to steer it after Clean’s one-year interim place ends. That might mark a “quintessential altering of the guard and proclamation that AMC Networks is ‘all in’ on media’s new world order,” argues Csathy.

Begley additionally means that AMC Networks may think about extra techy or in any other case several types of CEO, past premium content material veterans like Clean, in its search. “You possibly can’t assist however assume that some daring strikes are going to must be made down the street right here,” he explains. “And discovering the fitting particular person to make these selections goes to be essential for the corporate.”

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