AMC is making a seven-figure pitch to advertisers who want to be part of the final episode of Mad Men next year.
The network has assembled a package of one of the 20 or so 30-second spots in the Mad Men finale, the most upscale show on TV, plus a spot in Walking Dead, the highest-rated series among adults 18 to 49, that it’s calling Brawn and Brains. The price tag is north of $1 million.
AMC decided not to sell the last episode of Mad Men, which is expected to air in Spring 2015, during the upfront, when the rest of the final season was sold. Since then a few dozen advertisers have asked the network to let them know when those spots go on sale. The network began notifying those advertisers late this week about the offer and expects replies by late next week.
Last year in scatter, AMC sold spots in the last episode of Breaking Bad for $300,000 to $400,000 per 30-seconds in scatter.
Normally, when a network has a hot property, it tries to leverage what buyers want to get them to also buy harder to move inventory. But AMC is taking the opposite approach.
“This is a 100% pure premium package,” says Scott Collins, executive VP of ad sales for AMC. “Advertisers like to buy what they want and they don’t always like to be beholden to buy a bunch of other stuff in order to get what they really want.”
Though the shows are very different, an award winning drama about ad executives in the 1960 versus a horror story about a zombie apocalypse in the near future, they attract a largely overlapping advertiser base, according to Collins.
“Both shows are in demand by very similar advertisers. They appreciate the big upscale nature of Mad Men and they appreciate the large viewership of Walking Dead,” he says. “You’ve got advertising, you’ve got zombies. It’s a pretty amazing moment to be able to offer that broad spectrum of content for our advertisers.”
It is also unusual for one network to have both the most watched show and the most upscale show on its schedule at the same time. The last time was a decade ago when Friends and The West Wing were on NBC.
AMC Networks was among a small number of programmers that had a good upfront. Even without the Mad Men finale, upfront sales volume was up by double digits for the company, according to market sources. But for most of the industry, ad sales growth has slowed and the scatter market has been quiet. By moving now, AMC will be able to get an early crack at some second-quarter scatter budgets.
But AMC wants to sell no more than half of the Mad Men inventory with this fourth quarter offer and hold back some spots to sell even closer to air, when anticipation for the show heats up.
“I’d take Mad Men in a good market or Mad Men in a bad market, and I'd say the same for The Walking Dead. Even in a weaker market people still want to be associated with that water cooler experience," Collins says.