AMC Networks Grapples With TV’s Shifting Tides in Q4

AMC Networks delivered lackluster earnings for the fourth quarter that were dragged down by write-downs in the international unit and declining advertising revenue for its U.S. networks.

The results underscore the crossroads that pure-play programmers such as AMC Networks have reached in terms of growth potential for the traditional linear channels that are its core business: AMC, SundanceTV, IFC, We TV, BBC America and BBC World News.

AMC Networks saw revenue top expectations at $785 million for the quarter, up 1.6% from the year-ago frame. Adjusted operating income fell 8.7% to $200 million. The quarter included write-downs of $107 million in the International and Other division, and $11 million in restructuring and related charges. All of that led to net income swinging to a loss of $8.6 million for the quarter.

AMC’s National Networks division saw revenue dip by 0.6% to $589 million. Adjusted operating income fell 13.1% to $182 million. Advertising revenue slumped 7.8% to $251 million, something AMC attributed to lower ratings. AMC took a $23 million charge for domestic programming expenses in the quarter, compared to $29 million in the year-ago quarter. Distribution revenue was the bright spot for the division, with a 5.5% gain to $338 million, powered by content licensing deals.

AMC Networks executives emphasized the company’s focus on growing its suite of niche-targeted SVOD services as the linear businesses are buffeted by the changing pay TV landscape. AMC has a total of about 2 million subscribers  for Acorn TV (which offers British TV Series, Shudder, Sundance Now, and Urban Movie Channel. AMC is looking to step up the international expansion of those services in the coming year.

But Wall Street analysts on AMC’s conference call were largely focused on how the company plans to manage the decline of its core business. AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan conceded that the big challenge at present is making the calls on “how to invest properly and be prepared for both headwinds and the tailwinds that occur in the United States and beyond.” Sapan pointed to the April 12 debut of the latest “Walking Dead” spinoff, “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” as having good potential to provide a boost for this year’s Q2.

Sapan said the company is giving significant consideration to whether it should assemble a more expansive SVOD package for the domestic market. He noted that the company’s rethinking its strategy of selling rerun rights to its programs to third-party SVOD outlets such as Netflix and Hulu.

“We have some decisions to make when shows come back now from licensing (deals) with third parties,” he said, noting that older shows such as “Halt and Catch Fire” and “Rectify” are coming to the end of existing contracts.

(Pictured: “The Walking Dead: World Beyond”)

More TV

  • Tiger King

    'Tiger King': Where Everyone in the Series Is Now

    (Warning: Spoilers ahead. Do not watch if you haven’t seen all seven episodes of Netflix’s “Tiger King.”) Like a stealthy tiger padding through the jungle, no one saw Netflix’s “Tiger King” coming until it was too late to un-see the questionable conditions the animals were kept in, and the questionable taste in tattoos of nearly [...]

  • Jameela Jamil attends the NBC and

    Jameela Jamil Admits She Could Have Picked a Better Time to Come Out as Queer

    Jameela Jamil isn’t interested in being perfect.  “Sometimes, I do f— up, but I always apologize when I’ve gotten it wrong,” she told said in a candid interview on “Variety Live,” which streams via Variety’s Instagram account. “I learn, and other people learn with me.”  And she definitely isn’t afraid to back down from a [...]

  • THE BLACKLIST -- "Cornelius Ruck (#155)"

    'The Blacklist' Bosses on 'Clue' Inspiration for Standalone Whodunnit Episode

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Cornelius Ruck (No. 155),” the 12th episode of “The Blacklist” Season . Viewers that needed a bit of a respite from the real world on Friday night probably embraced the light-hearted nature of “The Blacklist’s” “Cornelius Ruck” episode, a concluding installment to the previous week’s [...]

  • APA Logo

    APA Sets Salary Cuts and Furloughs in Wake of Covid-19 Pandemic

    Following in the steps of several agencies dealing with the coronavirus, APA has informed all offices of upcoming salary cuts along with possible suspensions and furloughs for employees due to the pandemic’s economic effect on the industry. APA board of directors will make the largest financial sacrifice. The move has been made to avoid layoffs [...]


    DGA, SAG-AFTRA, WGA Scramble to Keep Residuals Flowing During Coronavirus Pandemic

    Hollywood’s creative guilds have been working overtime to keep residual checks going out to members during the coronavirus crisis. Even though most of the staff members of the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America West have been working remotely, the guilds have stepped up efforts to maintain the flow of [...]

  • Steven Universe Series Finale

    The Radical Empathy of 'Steven Universe' (Column)

    The last epic battle of “Steven Universe” isn’t one between friends and foes, but between Steven Universe and himself. After six years and nearly 200 episodes, both the show and character took the time to ask themselves some crucial, existential questions: What happens to a hero after they’ve already saved the day? Who is Steven [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content