One of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and visionary executives, Josh Sapan is responsible for the overall management of AMC Networks, the entertainment company known for its groundbreaking and celebrated original content.
The company consists of several leading entertainment brands including: national television networks AMC, BBC AMERICA, IFC, SundanceTV, and WE tv; film distribution label IFC Films; premium streaming video services Sundance Now, Shudder, Acorn TV, UMC and AMC Premiere; AMC Studios, its television production and worldwide content distribution division; Levity Entertainment Group, its comedy venues and production services business; and AMC Networks International, the company’s international programming business.
Named CEO in 1995, Sapan led the company’s successful spin-off from Cablevision Systems Corporation in June 2011, when AMC Networks began trading as a separate public company on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Lauded by Fast Company magazine as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” Sapan’s record of delivering must-have content to passionate audiences, coupled with his championing of breakthrough distribution models, has transformed cable television and has changed the way people watch TV.
The recipient of the Paley Prize for Innovation and Excellence, Sapan was recognized by Vanity Fair in its New Establishment Issue and as one of the “Impresarios of Cable’s Golden Age.”
He is credited with building some of television’s most influential entertainment brands and shows that are at the center of what’s been widely referred to as a new “Golden Age” of television. These include: AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Better Call Saul,” “The Terror,” and “Halt and Catch Fire;” BBC AMERICA’s Golden Globe® Award-winning “Killing Eve,” “Doctor Who,” Emmy-Award®-winning “Orphan Black,” and landmark natural history series including “Planet Earth II” and “Blue Planet II;”IFC’s “Portlandia,” and “Documentary Now!;” and SundanceTV’s “Rectify” and “Top of the Lake.” In addition, WE tv has emerged as a leading unscripted destination for women with hit shows “Braxton Family Values” and “Love After Lockup” as well as the “Growing Up Hip Hop” and “Marriage Boot Camp” franchises.
Sapan has been instrumental in bringing independent film to wide audiences through award-winning film distribution and production labels IFC Films, Sundance Selects and IFC Midnight. IFC Films’ successes include the critically-acclaimed Richard Linklater film Boyhood, winner of the Oscar® for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and winner of the Golden Globe Award® for Best Feature Film, both firsts for the company; the Paul Dano-directed Wildlife with Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin; and the Oscar®-nominated 45 Years, to name just a few. In addition, Sapan opened New York City’s IFC Center in 2005, the brick-and-mortar home for the brand and home to DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in the United States launched a decade ago. He also pioneered the strategy of same-day theatrical and video-on-demand release which has fundamentally altered how independent films are distributed and is a model that is now widely used throughout the movie industry.
Sapan serves on numerous boards, including the American Film Institute, The Paley Center for Media, the Museum of the Moving Image, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, and New York Public Radio and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Executive Branch.
Inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, Sapan has been recognized with a wide range of honors including NATPE’s Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award, the Paley Prize for Innovation and Excellence, and for his contributions to the advancement and protection of free speech, The Media Institute’s Freedom of Speech Award. Sapan has received an unprecedented three Vanguard Awards from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s (NCTA), for Programmers, Marketing, and the Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership. He was also inducted into the Cable Center Hall of Fame, the Cable TV Pioneers and received CTAM’s Grand TAM Award and Chairman’s Award; a PROMAX Brand Builder Award; and the T. Howard Foundation’s Executive Leadership Award among many others.
Earlier in his career Sapan spearheaded the development of the Bravo network. Launched in 1980, the network made arts and culture an essential part of the television landscape. Sapan’s oversight of Bravo’s growth included the creation of notable and culturally impactful programs including “Inside the Actors Studio” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” The network was sold to NBC in 2002.
Sapan is the author of “The Big Picture: America in Panorama” (Princeton Architectural Press), a collection of panoramic photos from the 20th century, with an introduction by writer and critic Luc Sante and captions from celebrated public figures including Yogi Berra, Arianna Huffington, Bob Kerrey, Anna Quindlen and Martha Stewart.
He is a published poet, and also has the world’s largest collection of antique lightning rods, a selection of which is on permanent display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.