AMC is counting on advertisers knowing the difference between Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie.
A key part of the network’s pitch to advertisers under the guidance of General Manager Charlie Collier is that by picking the right movies, different audiences can be targeted.
“What I say to everyone is Clint Eastwood is going to treat you very differently than Angelina Jolie,” said Mr. Collier, who joined the movie network last year from Court TV, where he was head of ad sales. By picking the right titles, stars or genres, he says, “If you’re trying to reach men 25-54 we can do that with movies that are dead on,” such as the Eastwood classic “High Plains Drifter.”
“If you’re trying to reach women 18-49, you can do that here, too,” he adds, with a film like “Girl, Interrupted,” for which Ms. Jolie won an Oscar.
AMC is looking to follow up its success with the original movie “Broken Trail”-the highest-rated scripted program on cable in 2006-with its first original series in July.
But classic films remain its bread and butter.
Packaged films, combined with original commentary and context, helped AMC boost its ratings to record levels in the first quarter. The network jumped 26 percent among adults 18-49 and 31 percent with viewers 25-54 during a quarter in which the Rainbow Media-owned channel ranked 14th in total viewers among ad-supported cable networks in prime time.
AMC’s monthly features, such as “AMC Hollywood Icon,” “AMC Celebrates” and “AMC Complete Collection,” showcase the films of specific stars.
The network will add a new franchise, “AMC Gold,” in October starting with Oscar winner “Sergeant York.”
By putting films into franchises, “We get to contextualize them for the viewer and for the advertisers and affiliates,” Mr. Collier said.
While other networks are airing more cheap reality programming, Mr. Collier views classic films as high-quality content. AMC airs them without cuts for time and with few commercials, and includes supporting content about the stars and directors.
“That’s why buying movies on AMC is just a different environment,” he said. “It’s a better environment for your brand, it’s a better environment for viewers, and I think we’re seeing it with the results we saw in the first quarter.”
As part of its salute to Robert Redford in January, AMC drew a 3.1 household rating for “Jeremiah Johnson,” the network’s biggest number in the quarter. In 2005, the same film aired on Turner South and drew a 0.53 rating.
According to Kagan Research, AMC’s net ad revenues are expected to rise 14 percent to $149.8 million in 2007 from $131.3 million in 2006.
The numbers show AMC is a broad-reach network that can also narrow down to an advertiser’s target demographic, said Arlene Manos, president of national ad sales for Rainbow, who is pitching the concept to upfront advertisers.
Sci-fi films, for example, tend to skew young, while Westerns skew older.
“There are ways to access audiences on this network like almost no other network on television and it’s because the schedule is built night by night,” she explained.
With a broad library to choose from, the network can respond to very specific needs. Last month, for Johnson & Johnson’s Visine brand, AMC came up with three films in which the lead characters experienced some eye irritation: “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” “Volcano” and “The Quick and the Dead.”
The new franchise, “AMC Gold,” will launch with films the channel regards as epic viewing. Among the films to air under the monthly “Gold” banner are “On the Waterfront,” “From Here to Eternity,” “Witness,” “Apollo 13” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
AMC also is hand-picking movies to support the launch of its original programming, which begins with “Mad Men” in July.
“Mad Men” is a period story set in the good old days on Madison Avenue, created by Mathew Weiner (“The Sopranos”). Over its 13-week run, it will be surrounded by titles including “The Godfather” trilogy, the 20th anniversary of “The Untouchables” and a rare telecast of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
The idea is to use compatible movies to drive viewers to the original series and use the series to drive viewers to the movies,” Mr. Collier said.
“Our obligation is to produce originals that can stand side-by-side with the classics of all time. So far with `Broken Trail,’ so good,” he said.
Ms. Manos said AMC plans an even lower-than-usual commercial load for “Mad Men,” and might sell a sole sponsorship for the premiere. Next year, AMC plans to air a remake of the British classic series “The Prisoner,” and the channel already has complementary movies lined up, including “The Matrix” and the complete collection of “The Planet of the Apes.”
AMC also is shooting a pilot for drama “Breaking Bad,” starring Bryan Cranston as a father-turned-drug kingpin, and is developing series with a long list of other producers including Tom Fontana.
The series are designed to occupy the same genres as popular movies, including sci fi, capers, crime and Westerns.
The network also is investing in more historical miniseries, projects set during the Civil War, World War I and World War II.