- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
AMC Networks, the cable networks and streaming company that operates the likes of AMC, AMC+, IFC, BBC America, Acorn TV and Shudder, ended 2021 with more than 9 million streaming subscribers and a company record for full-year revenue of $3.1 billion, up 9 percent.
Management had forecast 9 million paid streaming users by the end of the year. The company on Wednesday also reiterated its projection that it would reach 20-25 million streaming subscribers by the end of 2025.
AMC, led by interim CEO Matt Blank, said its full-year revenue gain was “driven by growth in streaming and advertising.” AMC execs on a morning call following the release of their latest financial results expanded on the company’s accelerated shift to genre streaming TV platforms and subscriber growth.
Blank summoned cable TV baron John Malone when he touted his company’s niche streaming strategy that focuses on growing targeted services like the thriller and horror-themed Shudder and Acorn TV. “John Malone has recently been talking about the wisdom of building what he calls defendable niches in streaming. That’s exactly what we’re doing, and why we believe our recent progress is replicable going forward,” Blank argued.
In Nov. 2021, Malone told CNBC that bigger streaming players needed to become “defendable niches” rather than overly focus on being everything to everyone as they prize scale over profitability. “We’re not trying to be something for everyone. We are instead trying to be something for someone,” Blank insisted.
AMC expects around 400,000 new streaming subscriber additions during the first quarter of 2022 as it begins to offer specific guidance on its smaller, more focused genre streamers, which will account for a greater share of company revenue going forward.
AMC’s portfolio of streamers includes the Black series and film destination ALLBLK, formerly called UMC, art house-focused Sundance Now and theatrical movie label IFC Films Unlimited. Company execs stressed the economics of AMC Networks’ niche streamers includes lower costs, higher engagement and higher subscriber retention.
That narrative echoes those of larger media industry rivals, including ViacomCBS on Tuesday, which seek credit for their direct-to-consumer effort to increasingly shift premium content to online and subscriber-driven platforms. Blank told analysts that effort will include an “aggressive pursuit” of subscribers, which included a recent Super Bowl commercial to spotlight shows coming to its AMC+ premium streaming service.
During the most recent financial quarter for AMC, fourth-quarter revenue increased 3 percent to $804 million. U.S. distribution revenue in the final quarter of 2021 climbed 7 percent to $451 million as higher streaming revenues was partially offset by a decrease in linear affiliate revenue, “attributable to declines in the linear subscriber universe.”
Quarterly U.S. advertising revenue dropped 1 percent to $234 million on “higher pricing and ad-supported streaming growth, offset by lower linear ratings.” Fourth-quarter original series on AMC included Fear the Walking Dead and a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead.
Fourth-quarter net income fell from $94.7 million to $17.0 million. Operating income decreased 12 percent to $100 million, and adjusted operating income dropped 16 percent to $122 million, “reflecting increased investments in subscriber acquisition and retention marketing to support the continued growth of our streaming services,” the company explained.
“2021 was a strong, pivotal year for AMC Networks,” said Blank in a statement. “We met or exceeded all of our guidance metrics, delivering the highest revenue in our company’s history and full-year U.S. advertising and subscription growth, reinforcing the strength of our core business. We ended the year with more than 9 million paid streaming subscribers, a significant milestone driven by the strength of our streaming brands and the depth of content within each of our offerings, and with our acquisition of global anime content distributor Sentai and the HIDIVE anime streaming service, we deepened our position as the global leader in targeted streaming.”
He added: “Looking ahead, 2022 will be the biggest year for original content in our history, including the highly-anticipated returns of Better Call Saul and Killing Eve. We have great confidence in our unique streaming model, and we’re more confident than ever that we’re pursuing the right strategy for our company, for the audiences we serve, and for our shareholders.”
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day