Sunday, Sept. 29 is a big day for AMC Networks Inc (NASDAQ:AMCX). That night, the network will air the final episode of Breaking Bad, its hit TV show that’s achieved both widespread popularity and critical acclaim. Then, in about sixth months, the seventh and final season of Mad Men will start, and 13 weeks later, AMC Networks Inc (NASDAQ:AMCX)’s other big show will air its final episode.
AMC Networks Inc (NASDAQ:AMCX) has been a great stock to own recently; but with two of its hit shows coming to an end, the network could be in trouble.
Mad Men and Breaking Bad
Over the last few years, AMC Networks Inc (NASDAQ:AMCX) has catapulted itself to the top of television. During the course of their runs, both Breaking Bad and Mad Men have won numerous Emmy Awards, and In June, the Writers Guild of America put both shows in the top 15 of its “best written TV series” list.
But the shows aren’t just for critics. Mad Men and Breaking Bad have been strong performers — ratings wise — for AMC Networks Inc (NASDAQ:AMCX), and have helped it to beat on earnings. On its last earnings call, management cited Mad Men in particular as a magnet for advertisers, noting that the show continues to draw in an “upscale” crowd.
Likewise, Breaking Bad has been a boon for AMC Networks Inc (NASDAQ:AMCX), with the last eight (currently airing episodes) drawing in substantial ratings. AMC’s management said that the final episode in particular was highly sought after by advertisers.
But AMC has plenty of other shows
Losing both shows will no doubt hurt, but AMC has plenty of other content. In particular, the network will now turn to The Walking Dead to carry the load going forward, and that show, combined with its companion series Talking Dead could continue to carry the network.
AMC also has other programming like The Killing, which it cited as being a strong performer in the second quarter, as well as new shows like Low Winter Sun. Ratings for that show have not been particularly good, but as Breaking Bad‘s steady growth of viewers demonstrates, shows can take time to catch on.
There’s also a forthcoming spinoff to Breaking Bad — Better Call Saul. The show, which will star Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman (a supporting character in Breaking Bad), will obviously attract attention from the millions of breaking bad fans that have grown accustomed to the character. However, as Goodman acts as comedic relief on Breaking Bad, the show might be more comedy than drama.
HBO survived the loss of The Sopranos
Other networks have survived the loss of their key shows. Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX)‘s HBO has been particularly adept at cycling from one hit to the next, shifting from The Sopranos to True Blood to Game of Thrones.
But admittedly, HBO has one advantage over AMC: It’s in the subscription business. Ratings only matter to HBO so far as the shows the network is putting on keep its subscribers happy — and encourage new ones to sign up. As Slate noted, the first season of Game of Thrones was — by broadcast standards — a letdown. And yet, HBO eagerly committed to paying for more seasons.