Despite Losing Mad Men and Breaking Bad, AMC Is More Popular Than Ever

On a ratings roll, network adds a fourth night of programming

AMC's president and general manager, Charlie Collier, knows that many competitors and onlookers were expecting his network to stumble after losing its two signature shows—Mad Men and Breaking Bad—in a year. But instead of imploding, AMC has just wrapped its most successful year ever.

"We faced an important transition over the last two years, with both Breaking Bad and Mad Men coming to a close, and many looked at 2015 as a sort of, what's next here for the network? And we're very proud of what we've accomplished," Collier said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

Before presenting the network's upcoming new shows for 2016, Collier noted that three of AMC's four premieres in 2015—Fear the Walking Dead, Into the Badlands and Better Call Saul—are the top three cable series launches of all time among adults 18-49 and 25-54.

"At a time when many are focused on too much TV or measurement challenges and the impact of time-shifting, it's remarkable that viewership records can even be set anymore," said Collier, who added that AMC also ended last year "as the no. 1 destination for original programming in prime time, including broadcast, averaging nearly 4 million viewers in adults 18-49 and 25-54 all original episodes in live-plus-three." The network also became a top 5 cable network in primetime for the first time, in both the 18-49 and 25-54 demos.

AMC has 14 original shows set to roll out this year, Collier noted. "We head into 2016 confident and optimistic about the future, and that's largely because we believe in the vision of the creative talent that's at the heart of our network," said the exec, who has so many shows in the pipeline that he is adding a fourth night of original programming: Tuesdays, alongside Sundays, Mondays and Saturdays.

Among AMC's other TCA announcements:

  • Fear the Walking Dead, AMC's Walking Dead prequel, will return on April 10 for Season 2. The 15-episode season will be split in two parts: seven episodes airing in the spring; the remaining eight later in the year. The Chris Hardwick-hosted Talking Dead, which airs after The Walking Dead, will follow all episodes of Fear this season, and no, AMC did not rename it Fear the Talking Dead.
  • Six-part miniseries The Night Manager premieres April 19, marking AMC's first foray into Tuesday night programming. "For quite some time, we have wanted to bring limited series back to our air," said Collier of the show, which stars Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston and is based on John le Carre's post-Cold War espionage novel.
  • Feed the Beast, a drama from Dexter and Nurse Jackie executive producer Clyde Phillips about best friends who try to open a restaurant in the Bronx, will premiere in May, despite the fact that the show doesn't have a cast yet. Phillips said that he's close to landing "an A-list TV star" and "a movie star," even though filming is set to begin in less than a month.
  • AMC has placed a straight-to-series order for The Sun, a multigenerational drama about a Texas family, based on the Philipp Meyer novel.
  • In perhaps its most ambitious swing of 2016, AMC will air Preacher, based on the cult comic book franchise about a West Texas preacher with unusual powers, later this year. It's executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who are trying to maintain the bloody, violent tone of the comics while also making the show palatable for non-readers. "We want the show to be fun for regular people with not sick sensibilities. Put that on the poster!" said Rogen.