AMC is getting into the Saturday business.
The network announced Monday that it was moving its third-season western drama “Hell on Wheels” to Saturday nights beginning Aug. 3.
It marks yet another push by the network beyond its destination Sunday night programming. Last year, it launched its reality block on Thursday nights -- a night once home to “Mad Men” in its early days. Saturdays would see the network build up a third night of programming.
“A new episode of ‘Hell on Wheels’ on Saturday night after a full day of western fan favorites is going to be like the saddle on top of the horse,” Charlie Collier, the network’s president and general manager, said in a statement. “This is a programmer’s dream -- to have a genre specific, 14-hour lead-in to one of your highest rated originals. We are so excited about this opportunity to entertain AMC’s audience in a new way.”
Branching out into another night makes sense. The network is set for the return of “The Killing,” along with new series “Low Winter Sun,” in June on Sunday nights. But Saturday nights? Wait. There’s a reason for it.
The network has long celebrated the western genre through movies and reruns on Saturday nights, so it’s looking to build off the established audience tuning in. To usher in its push in the night with original programming, AMC will air the miniseries “Lonesome Dove” and, for the first time on the network, its sequel, “Return to Lonesome Dove,” before the 9 p.m. ET/PT premiere of “Hell on Wheels.”
The series averaged about 2.4 million viewers with its sophomore outing, a number that will likely take a dip with its move to Saturday nights during the summer.