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Originals Bring AMC Ad Dollars

Nov 27, 2006  •  Post A Comment

As AMC’s new general manager, Charlie Collier, makes plans to add more original series to the cable network, new advertisers are rolling in.

Mr. Collier, previously executive VP and general manager of ad sales for Court TV, wants AMC to be a sponsor-friendly environment, marked by high-quality programming and low levels of commercial clutter.

AMC’s first original movie, Robert Duvall’s “Broken Trail,” was one of cable’s highest-rated shows this year and helped the network attract Ford Motor Co. as a new advertiser. Following “Broken Trail,” Ford’s Lincoln division signed on as sponsor of the network’s “Friday Night Feature” for three nights during November and December.

Entertainment retailer FYE, which has agreed to sponsor AMC’s “Date Night” movie franchise as part of a fourth-quarter scatter ad buy, is among the advertisers who have been drawn to the network. Hyundai also recently signed up to continue its sponsorship of “Movie of the Month.”

“It’s exciting to join a network that’s got so much momentum,” said Mr. Collier, who joined AMC in September.

AMC, which among cable networks ranked 16th in October with an average of 406,000 viewers 18 to 49, plans to complement its movie lineup with original series as off-network procedural dramas dominate other entertainment cable channels.

Mr. Collier broke ground at Court TV, leading the network’s groundbreaking initiative to guarantee advertisers not only that viewers would see advertisements but that audiences would demonstrate engagement with the spots. At AMC, one of Cablevision Systems’ Rainbow Media properties, he plans a similar approach.

“I think the marketplace is selling engagement and we have one of the lowest levels of commercial clutter in all of television,” said Mr. Collier, who left Court TV after it was sold to Time Warner in May. “The way we present the films is clean and clear and it’s reflected in a lot of the research out there.”

“Movies are amazing on television in the sense that there’s always so many dollars on the screen,” he said. “At a time when you’ve got a lot of people relying on reality, we’ve got an original programming slate that’s high-quality, and we’re putting more money than ever into it.”

Among AMC’s projects in the pipeline is “Mad Men” a series about ad execs in the 1950s and the network has ordered a pilot for “Breaking Bad,” about a teacher who makes drugs.

“We are a network that certainly celebrates movies and the originals that we’re doing are absolutely complementary to them,” Mr. Collier said. “A lot of the stuff we’re doing feels more like HBO and movies.”

Mr. Collier’s deals at Court TV that guaranteed advertisers audience engagement reflected realities in the marketplace that also pertain to AMC, he said.

Advertisers “deserve greater accountability for their media spend and I’m absolutely going to make sure that we put research at the fore, that we invest in it and share it with our partners,” Mr. Collier said.

AMC will also be making room for product placement in its original shows, and some deals have already been closed, said Mr. Collier, who declined to comment further on the deals.

Arlene Manos, president of national network advertising sales for Rainbow Media, said AMC’s success with “Broken Trail” has opened new doors.

“We had a good experience with Ford with `Broken Trail’ and we are expanding our relationship,” Ms. Manos said.

AMC will televise the “Lincoln Friday Night Movie”” featuring “Meet Joe Black” on Nov. 17, “Hidalgo” on Dec. 8 and “Jurassic Park” on Dec. 15. That deal gives Lincoln customized opening and closing mentions, some bumpers between segments of the movie, promotions for the movies that mention Lincoln and a special area on the AMC Web site dedicated to Lincoln.

FYE, which sells entertainment offerings including compact discs, DVDs and video games, will sponsor AMC’s “Date Night,” which features men and women speed-dating while discussing films. FYE will supply prizes for “Date Nights,” which will feature the network premiere of “Autumn in New York” on Nov. 27 and “3 Men and A Little Lady” on Dec. 18.

FYE had been an advertiser on fuse, Rainbow’s music network, and AMC’s focus on movies was a natural fit, Ms. Manos said.

She said that about half of the weekly “Date Nights” sold out during the upfront advertising market: “It’s a popular feature for us.” AMC is also looking to create more franchises, which bring fresh appeal to even already seen films.