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AMC chief: on-demand has changed shape of TV drama

Technology including video-on-demand and digital video recording has helped change the shape and improve the quality of scripted drama on TV and allowed TV to partly supplant cinema as the home of truly original content, according to AMC Networks boss Josh Sapan.

Josh Sapan_wideDelivering the opening keynote at Cable Congress yesterday morning, Sapan (left), who is AMC’s CEO and president, said: “What’s on cable is recognised as stronger than what is frequently broadcast, at least in the US.”

He added TV remains key to the appeal of cable. “People have the strongest emotional connection to the bill they pay… when they’re talking about TV,” he said.

AMC has had major success with dramas such as The Walking Dead, which is cable biggest ever non-sports programme, Breaking Bad and Mad Men.

In a keynote in Amsterdam, Sapan said advances in technology had given birth to the new form of scripted drama found on his channels. He said the ability to view content on-demand and the DVR had enabled viewers to relate to this type of drama.

Sapan said that the growth of digital recording following the launch of TiVo, and video on demand, had changed modes of consumption. “This is particularly true with regard to scripted drama, especially in the US. Drama used to be sort of bland and easy to view so that if you were watching in the kitchen you could sort of follow along. But when these advances occurred, it allows these series to become more nuanced, with deeper and more immersive characters. This technology created a different mindset,” he said.

Sapan said that technology had enabled a “cinema mindset” to move to TV viewing. “When people sit down with a DVR, they sit down with their own schedule,” he said. “The TV has replaced the allowance for focus that used to be with the movies,” he said. “Cinephiles are being replaced with what you might call telephiles.”