When it comes to struggling cable networks, not many people might guess that AMC is one of those having a hard time. After all, The Walking Dead is one of the biggest shows on television, and AMC is home of both The Walking Dead and spinoff Fear the Walking Dead. As it turns out, however, AMC can't succeed on the legacy or ratings of one megahit alone, and The Walking Dead may not be enough for the network to sustain itself for much longer without some significant changes. Big investments aren't resulting in big ratings, and AMC is already starting to make cutbacks that will affect employees.
Series that have failed to achieve high enough ratings to justify the expenses that went into production have pushed AMC to offer buyouts to staff in order to cut positions, according to Deadline. Approximately 200 staffers will be approached with the buyout offer, which will comprise about 6% of the workforce currently employed by AMC. The buyouts are voluntary at this point, but there's no saying how long buyouts will remain optional rather than forced.
It's hard to blame AMC for looking to find ways to cut costs. The numbers for the network have fallen alarmingly over the past year. AMC's stock price dropped more than 30% in the last 12 months, and declined almost 24% in 2016 so far. Drastic measures need to be taken if AMC does not land another hit that draws in numbers that approach those achieved by The Walking Dead.
Unfortunately, even The Walking Dead has had declining viewership, and the juggernaut series drops in ratings have contributed to the falling stock prices. Fewer folks were watching live for the Season 6 premiere, although the ratings were impressive once post-live viewing numbers were tallied. The 14.2 million people who tuned in for the Season 6 finale was a big drop from the 15.8 million viewers who watched the Season 5 finale live. The ratings giant of AMC just isn't bringing in as giant of ratings as in days past.
Ratings have decreased for other shows as well. Better Call Saul and Fear the Walking Dead both saw drops for their second seasons, and freshman series Preacher and Feed the Beast haven't resulted in particularly exceptional numbers. Preacher has been renewed for a second season, and both Fear the Walking Dead and Better Call Saul have gotten orders for third seasons, so AMC clearly has some degree of faith that the shows could turn around.
Of course, the time slots for shows should be taken into account when evaluating whether or not ratings should be deemed disappointments. The NBA post-season, election news, and Game of Thrones have all served as competition to AMC. The two Walking Dead series were the shows with the highest ratings on cable networks supported by ads as of May 2016. AMC could be in for trouble if Hulu does not include the network in its livestream bundle for 2017, but it's not time to panic yet. Still, if AMC doesn't end up with a new series that draws The Walking Dead ratings or experience a huge bump in viewership for any of its current series, the buyouts could be only the beginning of trouble for the staff at AMC. Who knows? Maybe the advent of the era of Negan will boost The Walking Dead high enough for AMC to recover a bit.