Shudder keeps scaring because of bespoke curation

Together with

The Future. AMC Networks’ horror-focused streaming service, Shudder, has cracked the code on programming a platform for niche audiences because of how much of a human touch it has in its programming. By focusing on a more “boutique” approach (according to programming VP Sam Zimmerman), Shudder may provide a blueprint for how to craft a streaming service built on core-fan stickiness rather than broad growth — a key skill as the streaming economy contracts.

Consistent spooks
Shudder has found success by shunning algorithmic recommendations in favor of acting as an audience tastemaker.

  • It built up a curated library of horror offerings that ranged from iconic titles (Halloween), hard-to-find classics (The Devils), to international gems (One Cut of the Dead).
  • It then started scouring film festivals for buzzy indie acquisitions (Skinamarink) and ramped up original productions (Host), releasing many of them in theaters to help drive awareness.
  • The streamer tries to aid discovery by mixing and matching similar titles in themed collections (“Found Frights,” “Essential 80s”) and by bringing in guest curators (Kumail Nanjiani, Elijah Wood).
  • It’s leaned into appointment viewing to build community with its live Friday screenings of The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs — which consistently clocks the most simultaneous views on the platform and trends nationally on X.

That success is especially surprising as its owner, AMC Networks, has been roiled in financial issues and executive turnover over the past few years. The shift to streaming hasn’t been kind to the network. 

But Shudder has been a bright spot (although its subscriber count has been a mystery since 2020). No wonder AMC is tapping the brand to have more of an influence over its entire portfolio…

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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