Fox Network Taps the Executive Behind ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Mad Men’

(Bloomberg) -- The man who brought “The Walking Dead” to the world will help bring a once-slumping broadcast network back to life.

21st Century Fox Inc. hired Charlie Collier, one of the top programming executives in the TV business, to run its broadcast network and entertainment operations, according to a statement Friday. The change is part of a broader shake-up at Fox, which is selling most of its entertainment assets to Walt Disney Co. The broadcast network will be part of a spinoff that’s currently being called New Fox.

Collier has been serving as president of AMC Networks Inc.’s namesake cable channel, as well as its studio. The executive worked at AMC for more than a decade, overseeing its transition from an outpost for classic movies to a reliable provider of high-end dramas like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.”

His move to Fox extends a round of musical chairs for U.S. broadcasting. All four main U.S. networks have announced changes in leadership in the past couple months. Dana Walden, the current co-chair of Fox, will go run ABC after the Disney deal, while Gary Newman, her co-chair, hasn’t announced his plans.

Collier will steer Fox through a turbulent time in the television business. Viewership of all live networks is in decline because people are watching more TV on-demand, or abandoning it altogether for streaming services Netflix and YouTube. Fox has suffered a particularly steep drop in viewers over the past few years. Once the most-watched network -- thanks to the music competition “American Idol” -- Fox was in the ratings cellar last year.

Football Focus

But the company has begun staging a comeback, helped by its sports programming. Its ratings have grown double-digits this year thanks to “Thursday Night Football,” and the network has surpassed ABC in viewership so far this season. Football and wrestling will claim prime-time slots in the years to come.

Collier is tasked with filling programming slots during the other nights of the week, and would oversee any new entertainment initiatives. Post-merger, Fox will own its namesake broadcast network, Fox News Channel and Fox Sports.

Collier is leaving AMC while the company is in the middle of figuring out what to do with its most important franchise, “The Walking Dead.” Collier had been leading the effort to prolong the zombie show, the first produced by AMC’s studio. AMC plans to make several movies and TV shows based on the series.

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