AMC Networks Plans Companion Digital Series for Anne Rices Vampire

AMC Networks has some big TV events to sell in the months ahead, but the company realizes advertisers who might like to be associated with those programs will want new kinds of advertising around them.

This next cycle of programming will bring with it TV events like the final episodes of “Better Call Saul’ and “The Walking Dead” that ought to command high prices in TV’s next “upfront” market, along with the debut of a show based on Anne Rice’s popular “Interview with the Vampire,” but without digital opportunities around them, marketers may not engage fully, suggests Kim Kelleher, AMC Networks’ president of commercial revenue and partnerships.

“We are seeing an increased appetite for digital inventory, and we have spent a lot of time working to break down the walls between digital and linear,” she says in an interview. “Those are table stakes now.”

While AMC is one of the sector’s smaller players, it has unveiled some eye-opening initiatives in recent months, including the launches of a handful of so-called FAST, or free, ad-supported streaming channels and a commitment to sell addressable ad inventory in each linear hour of original programs on its AMC and We TV cable networks.

The company is poised to expand its efforts. Six new FAST channels are in development, one of which will feature Spanish-language versions of series like “Walking Dead” and “Halt and Catch Fire.” Others will spotlight originals from the company’s ALLBLK streaming service, while a third will be devoted to anime and offer original series from Japan. Shorts and Cortos will serve short films. AMC is also dipping its toe into sports, forming a partnership with Overtime, a Brooklyn-based media company, to back its Overtime FAST channel that will offer 40 original content series and follow sports stars on and off the court.

AMC Networks will also move forward into new ad formats and e-commerce, joining other media companies that are hoping to build up new revenue through so-called “shoppable” TV that gives viewers a chance to buy items they see in their favorite programs. A suite of new products will offer advertisers ways to tailor the way their commercials appear alongside content, including on-screen overlays or sponsorships that cut back the number of ads shown with a particular piece of content.

The company will also expand digital content tied to some of its flagship linear series. The return of “Better Call Saul,” for example,  will be joined b, an animated short-form series focused on the childhood of the central character, Jimmy McGill in Cicero, IL, as well as the original comedy “Cooper’s Bar,” which stars Rhea Seehorn, one of the “Saul” regulars.

New series slated to debut include “Obsessed with the Vampire,” a digital post-show companion for AMC’s coming launch of a series built around Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire,” and “The Night Island,” an original about an exclusive resort that is based on elements from the author’s “Queen of the Damned.” The series will be produced with Mark Johnson, who is overseeing development of the entire Anne Rice universe, and his company Gran Via.

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