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Hot List: Cable TV

AMC pulls ahead of the pack

Photo: Joshua Scott

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Drama
AMC

In a three-way race that saw votes going to FX and a revitalized HBO, AMC thrived on the strength of its dead. Seething with self-righteousness and desperate for deliverance, the human survivors that populate The Walking Dead are becoming harder to distinguish from the ravenous corpses roaming the post-apocalyptic countryside—and viewers are eating it up. The most-watched series in cable history among the 18-49 set, The Walking Dead represents the apotheosis of AMC’s antihero stance—the literal evocation of spiritual rot. Don Draper and Walter White would be very much at home here. Not since HBO aired new installments of The Sopranos and The Wire has a network so faithfully (and relentlessly) captured the moral compromise of an age.

Comedy
FX

While uncompromisingly dark dramas like Sons of Anarchy are FX’s stock in trade, the network has insinuated itself with comedy nerds by way of the outré hits Louie, The League, Archer, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. When your rivals are poaching your wares—Comedy Central scooped up the off-net rights to Philly for $400,000 per episode—you’re on to something.

Sports
ESPN

In September, ESPN was the first NFL partner to re-up its TV contract with the league, signing an eight-year, $15.5 billion deal that will keep Monday Night Football in the ABC Sports family through 2021. Adweek readers were nearly unanimous in selecting the sports net; the $1.7 billion in ad sales ESPN stands to bring in this year made it official. 


Family
ABC Family

While ABC Family does brisk business with millennials, the channel’s reach isn’t limited to those who are still on the hunt for a learner’s permit. The success of original series like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Pretty Little Liars has allowed the Disney net to position itself as a must-buy for clients targeting women 18-49. Its biggest franchise remains “25 Days of Christmas,” a holiday stunt that offers classic Rankin/Bass specials, original movies, and theatricals.
 

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