AMC Networks' (NASDAQ: AMCX) The Walking Dead continues to be the top show on cable, and much like its zombies, the franchise...just...doesn't...stop. There are video games, comic books, novels, action figures, a talk show, and even a companion spinoff in the works. Will it succeed where others have failed?
What's the franchise worth?
In late 2011, 24/7 Wall Street and NBC News estimated the size of the "zombie economy" to be nearly $6 billion. Blockbuster movies like 28 Days Later and Zombieland accounted for about half of this figure, while the remaining dollars were split mostly between games, comics, and television. Assuming reasonable growth over the past two years, aided by World War Z, and Dead's rising popularity -- season four viewership is double that of season two -- $7 billion isn't out of the question.
But what's The Walking Dead franchise worth? As fellow Fool Tim Beyers writes, international distribution and "the richest content wellspring in all of entertainment" indicate it could be ten figures. A billion-dollar valuation would rival what some think James Bond and Iron Man are worth, and while that seems a bit high, AMC's Dead still has a long way to go.
The current series has covered about 40% of Robert Kirkman's ongoing comic book storyline, meaning there's potential for at least six more seasons. Given that Kirkman himself has already revealed plans for Issue number 200 (78 issues from now), the television show could last well beyond 10 seasons. Perhaps there is some truth to jokes made by AMC CEO Josh Sapan last year, who remarked that the show could still be on the air in 2022.