Skip to Content

Don Draper, meet Doctor Who: AMC Networks buys stake in BBC America

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) - Breaking Bad _ Season 5B _ Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMCWalter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) - Breaking Bad _ Season 5B _ Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in AMC's 'Breaking Bad'Frank Ockenfels—3/AMC

A long-rumored marriage of AMC Networks and BBC has finally been confirmed as AMC, the network behind hit cable programming like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, has agreed to take a 49.9% stake in the BBC America cable channel.

The deal, which was announced Thursday, calls for AMC (AMCX) to pay $200 million to BBC Worldwide, the government-backed U.K. broadcaster’s commercial arm, for a minority stake in the cable channel that is home to the sci-fi icon Doctor Who, the critically-acclaimed series Orphan Black and BBC World News. The deal leaves BBC with a 50.1% stake in BBC America, though AMC will have operational control of the channel while also handling advertising sales and distribution in the U.S., where BBC America is currently available in more than 80 million homes.

“The BBC is one of the most recognized, trusted and respected brands in the world and we are proud to partner with it to create a content offering unmatched in the industry,” AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan said in a statement.

Rumors of a potential partnership between the two networks surfaced over the summer, with reports suggesting that AMC – which has been considered to be a potential takeover target for larger media companies – was looking to get bigger in order to improve its leverage in programming fees negotiations with pay-TV companies. That need for leverage stems from the rash of consolidation in the industry like Comcast’s pending $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s $48.5 billion deal for DirecTV.

The agreement with BBC comes almost exactly a year after AMC announced its $1 billion acquisition of Liberty Global’s international network, Chellomedia. AMC used that acquisition to create its global division, AMC Networks International, which has a presence in 140 countries. AMC also owns the IFC, WE tv, and SundanceTV cable channels.

AMC and BBC have collaborated in the past, having worked together to create the television series Top of the Lake and The Honourable Woman, as well as the upcoming show One Child.

(Update: An earlier version of this article incorrectly noted that BBC America is in 30 million homes in the U.S. The channel is in 80 million homes. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.)