AMC Networks plans layoffs as CEO Christina Spade exits
Company has been under pressure from cord-cutting as Americans turn to streaming services
AMC Networks Inc. is planning large-scale layoffs, according to a staff memo from its chairman, a sign of further disruption at a company that earlier Tuesday announced its chief executive had stepped down.
"We of course realize that this will cause significant concern and anxiety for our employees and those who rely on AMC Networks for their livelihood," AMC Chairman James Dolan said in the memo which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. "We do not take this lightly. We will take every step possible to minimize the impact of these actions on our community."
Earlier Tuesday, the company said CEO Christina Spade has stepped down from her role less than three months after taking the reins.
AMC, the TV home of numerous hits including "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead" over the past decade, has been under pressure from cord-cutting, as Americans abandon traditional pay-TV packages in droves in favor of streaming services.
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New York-based AMC Networks owns and operates its namesake cable-television channel, as well as IFC, WE tv and SundanceTV. The company also owns streaming services, including AMC+ and horror-focused Shudder. The company isn’t related to the theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.
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"It was our belief that cord cutting losses would be offset by gains in streaming," Mr. Dolan said in his memo. "This has not been the case."
Shares of AMC were down 4.6% in midmorning trading Tuesday. The stock has dropped by more than 40% so far this year.
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Ms. Spade, the departing CEO, previously held senior roles at ViacomCBS Inc., CBS Corp. and Showtime, joined AMC as chief financial officer in January 2021 and took on the additional post of chief operating officer about a year ago.
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The company said its board is finishing work to name a replacement.
"We thank Christina for her contributions to the company in her CEO role and her earlier CFO role, and we wish her well in her future endeavors," Mr. Dolan said earlier Tuesday.
Ms. Spade became CEO on Sept. 9, succeeding Matthew Blank, the former chairman of Showtime Networks and a senior adviser at the investment bank Raine Group LLC. Mr. Blank had been serving as interim CEO since September 2021.
Ms. Spade didn’t return a request for comment.
The turnover comes after longtime AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan stepped down last year after a 26-year run, during which he shepherded some critically acclaimed titles and AMC’s foray into video streaming.
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AMC Networks said in a securities filing that Ms. Spade would be paid the severance benefits detailed in her Aug. 4 employment agreement, which was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2025. The company said she would get her benefits as outlined for either being terminated on a without-cause basis or resigning on a for-good-reason basis.
Ms. Spade is set to receive more than $10 million in severance, in addition to benefits associated with restricted stock units and other awards, according to the terms outlined in the employment agreement.