AMC is doubling down on the dead, putting into motion a plan that will bring a spinoff of TV’s top-rated series to the network in 2015.
According to AMC president and general manager Charlie Collier, AMC is developing a companion series to The Walking Dead, the apocalypse drama that annihilated ratings records in its third season. Usual suspects Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert are all on board as executive producers of the project, which will be produced in-house by AMC Studios.
“Building on the success of the most popular show on television for adults 18-49 is literally a no-brainer,” Collier said, by way of announcing the development. “We look forward to working with Robert, Gale and Dave again as we develop an entirely new story and cast of characters. It’s a big world and we can’t wait to give fans another unforgettable view of the zombie apocalypse.”
Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Season 3 of The Walking Dead averaged a staggering 11.4 million viewers per episode, of which 7.31 million were members of the all-important dollar demo. All told, 64 percent of the audience were part of the under-50 crowd.
The 5.8 adults 18-49 rating established The Walking Dead as the No. 1 scripted series on all of television, topping CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (5.3) and ABC’s Modern Family (4.2). The highest-rated new series of 2012-13, The Following (Fox) and Revolution (NBC) averaged a 2.6 in the demo.
The only prime-time program that remained out of The Walking Dead's reach: NBC’s Sunday Night Football (8.2).
With great ratings comes significant spot pricing. While marketers in the 2012-13 upfront plunked down around $245,000 per 30 seconds of TWD air time, by the end of the season the unit cost had jumped as high as $400,000 a pop in scatter buys.
The creator and writer of the long-running comic book series on which The Walking Dead is based, Kirkman, said the new series will be independent of the existing printed material. “The opportunity to make a show that isn’t tethered by the events of the comic book, and is truly a blank page, has set my creativity racing,” Kirkman said.
As the project is in its infancy, there were no additional details made available as to the show’s tone, format or setting. The announcement comes on the heels of AMC’s confirmation that it will go forward with Better Call Saul, a spinoff of Vince Gilligan’s towering drama Breaking Bad.
Season 4 of The Walking Dead bows on Oct. 13.