Moving a series to Saturday night is usually a bad sign for the series, but AMC’s latest move appears to be a different story. The cable channel made the decision to shift "Hell on Wheels" in the hopes of building something on Saturday nights, Bill Carter reports in The New York Times.
“Starting this summer, AMC, the channel behind some of television’s most talked-about dramas, like ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘The Walking Dead,’ plans to march head on into the programming Death Valley that has been Saturday night with a strategy built around a simple premise: a lot of men still like watching cowboys,” Carter reports.
“This week, at the network’s upfront, the annual programming presentation for advertisers in New York, AMC, whose hits thus far have all come on Sunday night, will announce a plan to open up a second night of original drama. Starting Aug. 3, it will move its established western series, ‘Hell on Wheels,’ to Saturdays.”
Execs at AMC are reportedly excited about the programming move. Said AMC President Charlie Collier: “It’s an effort to open up another night of original programming, but also it’s strategic. I’m looking at the opportunity. We have decades of empirical evidence that Western fans are available on Saturdays.”
Carter notes: “Much of that evidence has come from AMC itself, which has filled its Saturday schedule with classic Western movies like ‘Hondo’ and ‘High Plains Drifter,’ and more recently with classic cowboy television shows. The network acquired ‘The Rifleman,’ and in the last 18 months has had remarkable ratings returns for that hit from the late 1950s.”
The show recently drew 509,000 viewers on a Saturday afternoon, the piece notes.
The network will also announce at its upfront this week that it has acquired the classic TV show "Rawhide," which starred Clint Eastwood. That and other Westerns will provide a lead-in to "Hell on Wheels," set during the construction of the transcontinental railroad.