Cape Town – New zombie drama and The Walking Dead spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead is a massive hit right out of the box for AMC (DStv 140/StarSat 115) which now has instant must-watch, appointment television on Monday nights.
Fear the Walking Dead which made its monster debut on Sunday night in America on AMC and was shown on Monday morning at 03:10 on AMC in South Africa on MultiChoice's DStv and On Digital Media's StarSat, and again in its regular primetime timeslot of 20:00, logged an astounding 10.1 million viewers in the United States.
The viewership – 6.3 million of them in the desired 18-49 adult demographic – instantly propelled Fear the Walking Dead to the number one drama series premiere in pay-TV history in America which is a new ratings record.
Fear the Walking Dead produced by AMC Studios now holds the record as the most watched series premiere of any TV drama in pay-TV in the United States.
It's also history-making and highly significant for South Africa's TV and pay-TV industry, and here's why.
Although Fear the Walking Dead received barely any marketing and publicity push before its debut in South Africa today, it means that South African viewers are getting a premium brand-new TV drama, which is instantly a primetime hit, virtually simultaneous with the United States, but accessible on several lower-tiered, non-premium satellite pay-TV bouquets.
StarSat subscribers get AMC – and therefore Fear the Walking Dead – included on the StarSat Smart package for R149 per month. DStv subscribers on all packages get access to AMC – down to the cheapest DStv EasyView for R39 per month.
It means that DStv, StarSat and AMC can market and promote the hit zombie drama to virtually the entire existing pay-TV subscriber base in South Africa.
For AMC, run by AMC Networks International Zone (AMCI Zone), Fear the Walking Dead represents a massive upgrade and and opportunity in South Africa and Africa to elevate the channel's brand and awareness of it.
The channel changed and rebranded from the stale, library title filled MGM channel to AMC only from December 2014 and can now suddenly boast the year's latest biggest TV hit, eclipsing M-Net's Game of Thrones and FOX's Empire.
Fear the Walking Dead gives AMC not just buzzy appointment television in primetime over the next few weeks but dramatically elevates the channel proposition and the AMC brand.
With the new premium drama hour AMCI Zone, AMC will get the chance to showcase and perhaps expose new viewers to the channel for the first time who might not have channel hopped to AMC before.
New zombie drama 'leading the way'
Now having a premium, first-run drama express from the United States and the year's biggest pay-TV hit is somewhat ironic for AMC.
When it was added as the MGM channel just over a year and a half ago in November 2013, MultiChoice initially didn't want to give the channel to its top-tiered DStv Premium subscribers but soon relented following a public backlash.
MultiChoice said at the time that the repeat-filled MGM wasn't intended for DStv Premium subscribers but realised that "Premium customers would like to have the full range of channels available on their package".
"It is extremely exciting that we are broadcasting such fresh and interesting shows," says Ian Woodrow, the head of content at StarSat in a statement about Fear the Walking Dead. "We have a whole new line-up of content with Fear the Walking Dead leading the way."
Fear the Walking Dead is a spin-off prequel set in Los Angeles and will follow the start of the zombie outbreak with a first season of 6 episodes starring Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane and Ruben Blades.
It will be followed by the 6th season of The Walking Dead starting on 11 October in America and shown very soon after on FOX International Channel's FOX (DStv 125/StarSat 131).
Watch the trailer:
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