Is the Next Big Winner for AMC Networks Inc. Set to Debut This Weekend?

The network plans to screen "Halt and Catch Fire" during the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas.

Mar 9, 2014 at 8:15AM

Give AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) credit for knowing its audience. The network plans to screen the pilot episode of its period tech drama, Halt and Catch Fire, during this weekend's South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. Fool contributor Tim Beyers weighs the possibilities for the show in the following video.

AMC has set June 1 as the official premiere date for the 10-episode series, which stars Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, and Kerry Bishe, among others. We'll know a bit more of what to expect when SXSW attendees tweet their impressions of the pilot.

Executives need a hit. For as good as the ratings have been for The Walking Dead, AMC suffered a 4.5% year-over-year decline in adjusted operating cash flow because of $52 million in fourth-quarter writedowns in the value of three seasons of The Killing and the inaugural (and short-lived) season of Low Winter Sun. The network needs a new hit to boost ad gains and protect against downside, Tim says.

Can Halt and Catch Fire be that sort of winner? The show comes at an interesting time: Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) HBO unveils the comedy Silicon Valley next month. The two programs may be different in style (drama vs. comedy), but the topic -- the lure and looniness of the tech business -- is similar. Don't be surprised if an outsized number of gadget-obsessed, social media-addicted youth tune in to watch each program.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you expect to tune in to Halt and Catch Fire? How about Silicon Valley? Please watch the video to get Tim's full take and then leave a comment to let us know where you stand.

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Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Time Warner at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool recommends AMC Networks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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