AMC has really broken the cable mold over the past few years. The network has become known for its thrilling and intriguing dramas. Mad Men was a critical darling. Breaking Bad was a double whammy: a quality program that was also wildly popular toward the end of its run. And The Walking Dead, of course, has set the bar for what genre programs can really do in terms of sucking viewers in. Regardless of that early success, recent seasons of TV on AMC have not looked quite as spectacular, and that looks as if it will lead to AMC making less money over the next few years.
Speaking to Yahoo, a slew of analysts spoke about their concerns over the programming AMC has produced in recent seasons, which includes the genre drama Preacher---a show with a small audience--the underperforming Walking Dead spinoff Fear The Walking Dead, the already-cancelled Feed the Beast and the highly advertised Into the Badlands, which also didn't finish its season with super high ratings. It's not like AMC is just completely floundering, here. Fear The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul have actually done decent numbers, but AMC investors had extremely high expectations for both dramas and they have simply failed to match the great heights the original programs in their respective franchises brought in.
This is a problem. It's a problem for AMC and it's a problem for investors. The lack of ratings success for some of these shows may have less to do with quality than it has to do with competition from other channels, however. Analysts from Pacific Crest boil the problem down to this:
Most believed that near-term estimates are too high, largely due to Fear The Walking Dead underperformance. The explosion in serialized drama production has somewhat commoditized the genre.
It doesn't help that The Walking Dead has seemed to have reached its peak in terms of popularity. Last year, the ratings dropped for the first time. We would like to point out that this is not a huge problem and that AMC is not likely to cancel the series anytime soon; regardless, it does prove that The Walking Dead is no longer on the way up. It has reached its zenith, and AMC has to be aware of that. The cabler really could use another larger ratings hit, as well.
AMC isn't the only channel facing this problem. HBO only recently launched Westworld in a bid to compete with the success of Game of Thrones, which will be ending in a couple of seasons. FX has struggled to find popular dramas that have replaced the likes of Sons of Anarchy, and American Horror Story is also losing popularity as it ages. On both of those networks, however, there are rays of light. Westworld kicked off to pretty good numbers on the network, and FX recently scored a hit with American Crime Story, another anthology drama from Ryan Murphy. Now, AMC needs that ray of shining light, too.