The Walking Dead Universe will walk on despite Hollywood's first double strike since 1960. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike since May after failing to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP). In July, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) joined writers on the picket lines — effectively shutting down Hollywood's film and TV industry. As the writers' and actors' unions seek fair pay from the studios, AMC Networks CEO Kristin Dolan says the work stoppage won't begin to impact AMC programming until "well into 2024."
"We greatly value the work of our creative partners and hope these disputes can be resolved as quickly and fairly as possible," Dolan said Friday during AMC's second quarter earnings call (via Deadline). "In the short term, the reality for AMC Networks is that we have a pipeline of finished shows that will allow us to continue to serve our viewers across all of our platforms for the remainder of this year and well into 2024."
AMC debuted Maggie and Negan spin-off The Walking Dead: Dead City in June and will premiere The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon this September alongside the new season of Ride With Norman Reedus. The remaining six episodes of Fear the Walking Dead's eighth and final season will begin airing October 22nd. AMC has also completed production on The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, the Rick Grimes & Michonne spin-off slated to premiere in 2024. (AMC announced second season renewals for Dead City and Daryl Dixon at San Diego Comic-Con in July, but development will remain paused until after the WGA and SAG strikes are resolved.)
Between Daryl Dixon season 1, Fear the Walking Dead season 8B, and The Ones Who Live season 1 — all consisting of six episodes — AMC has banked a total 18 new Walking Dead Universe episodes to air through the remainder of 2023 and into 2024.
While the company's advertising revenues decreased 17% to $167 million due to "anticipated linear ratings declines, softness in the ad market and fewer original programming episodes within the quarter" that ended on June 30th, that loss was "partly offset by digital and advanced advertising revenue growth."
AMC also touted The Walking Dead: Dead City series premiere as the #1 season premiere in the history of streaming service AMC+ in terms of viewership across all new and returning series. Linear viewership for the first episode attracted a total premiere audience of 2 million viewers, according to the company. Along with AMC+ becoming the exclusive streaming home of the first seven seasons of Fear the Walking Dead, the company successfully negotiated the early return of rights for acclaimed and popular AMC Networks library titles including Killing Eve, Brockmire, The Terror, The Son, Preacher, Lodge 49 and others.
"Six months into my tenure as CEO, I am impressed with our team's ability to do what this company has always done best: produce high-quality content and make it available to viewers across an expanding array of platforms," said Dolan. "We accomplish this through a measured, opportunistic and disciplined strategy that drives free cash flow. Even during a period of industry-wide uncertainty and change, we are seeing the benefits of our strategy play out in our financial results, which for the second quarter include year-over-year increases in free cash, streaming subscribers, and streaming revenue, as well as healthy margins. It's clear we have the programming, the platforms and the partners necessary to continue to operate a very profitable business that delivers long-term shareholder value."
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon premieres September 10th on AMC and AMC+, followed by Fear the Walking Dead season 8B on October 22nd and The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live in early 2024.0comments