AMC Networks, which includes channels AMC, SundanceTV, IFC and WE tv, is increasingly focused on owning its shows and reaching into international markets, said president and CEO Josh Sapan at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference on Tuesday.
Sapan said viewer interest in quality television has ballooned in recent years, and that AMC has had the benefit of coming to the arena early with critically acclaimed series like Mad Men and the wildly successful Breaking Bad (owned by Lions Gate and Sony, respectively).
"I think that audiences have proven that they like good stuff," said Sapan. "So, the appetite for good stuff has increased fairly dramatically."
AMC's new original projects in the pipeline include a companion series to Walking Dead, the most popular drama on cable television, and Preacher, a TV show based on the comic book series. While the new focus on original content may mean better quality programming, it will raise AMC's short-term costs.
In another prong of its content push, AMC in October invested $200 million to acquire a 49.9% stake in BBC America, owner of drama series Dr. Who and Orphan Black. BBC America has a surprisingly large reach in the U.S., reaching about 80 million households. Sapan said the BBC America acquisition was important because of the channel's consistently high quality content.
"It's possible they're the finest producer of dramatic and comedy content around the globe," he said.
At the same time, AMC is vying for a greater international presence, Sapan said. Earlier this year AMC completed a $1 billion acquisition of Chellomedia, which it rebranded as AMC International. About 20% of the company's revenue now comes from outside of the U.S.