Massive Layoffs Announced After The Walking Dead Finale
When The Walking Dead premiered on AMC in October 2010, it helped the basic cable network hold its own as a zeitgeist-defining television juggernaut. But following the series finale, the network’s Chairman James Dolan says layoffs at the media company are imminent. The announcement comes as newly appointed CEO Christina Spade exited the role after just three months.
Although the reasons behind her departure were unclear, Dolan said hinted at AMC’s weakening financial position. “It was our belief that cord-cutting losses would be offset by gains in streaming,” he said in a memo to employees via Deadline. However, this has not been the case. Now, the company has directed the executive leadership of AMC Networks to undergo significant cutbacks in operations.
This will include large-scale retrenchment, along with cuts in every operating area of the media company. “We realize that this will cause significant concern and anxiety for our employees and those who rely on AMC for their livelihood,” Dolan added. He also noted that the network does not take the decision lightly and will take steps to minimize the impact of the layoffs on the community.
The decision will be a massive blow for the network after racking up impressive viewership numbers for The Walking Dead series finale. The episode delivered the show’s biggest same-day audience in almost two years, attracting 2.27 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter. While it was slightly short of its ratings in the mid-2010s, the number was still the largest since February 2021.
Viewership for the AMC series was also up 66% over the same-day average for the final stretch of episodes, with the finale earning a 0.66 rating among adults aged 18 to 49. Before the popular zombie series, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul showed that prestige television wasn’t reserved for streamers like Netflix and HBO Max. However, despite the success of The Walking Dead, AMC is still planning its layoffs.
But as these shows ended, the network finds itself struggling to attract viewers with any of its newer offerings. AMC currently has no plans to further explore the Breaking Bad universe, although Bob Odenkirk will star in the network’s upcoming series called Straight Man. His former co-star, Giancarlo Esposito will lead a new drama called The Driver as a chauffeur to a gangster, while The Walking Dead leaves behind a slew of spin-offs, featuring Norman Reedus and Jeffery Dean Morgan.
While it might seem like there’s a correlation between the end of AMC’s most popular shows and the mass layoffs, this isn’t the first time the company has announced job cuts. In 2020, the media firm axed 10% (or 100 positions) of its U.S. workforce in a reorganization designed to streamline the company’s linear and streaming operations.
Still, 2022 is an awful time for AMC to be losing its flagship series as cable television viewers “cut the cord” in favor of streaming. However, even behemoths like Netflix and Disney+ seem to be faltering, with each announcing hiring freezes and other internal reshuffling. Hopefully, new shows in The Walking Dead universe like Daryl & Carol will be enough to keep remaining viewers interested.