AMC Networks reached more than 9 million paid streaming subscribers by the end of 2021, the company revealed while reporting its fourth-quarter 2021 earnings Wednesday. It also beat Wall Street’s expectations for both its Q4 revenue and profit.
AMC Networks previously said it expected to have 9 million streaming subscribers by the end of 2021, and forecast between 20 million to 25 million paid subscribers across its streaming services by 2025. The company has now hit (and exceeded) that first benchmark and says it’s pacing to achieve the long-term target as well, anticipating getting halfway to that goal by the end of this year.
CFO Christina Spade said during the company’s investor call presenting the Q4 results later Wednesday morning that AMC Networks expects to add 400-500,000 streaming subscribers in Q1.
AMC Networks’ current streaming sub tally may seem small compared to its major streaming competition, like Netflix Disney Plus, HBO Max and Paramount Plus, but it puts it right in line with the 9 million paid customers that NBCUniversal’s streamer Peacock reported it ended 2021 with.
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AMC Networks’ lineup of targeted streaming services includes AMC Plus, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, ALLBLK and HIDIVE, newly acquired with the purchase of anime content distributor Sentai. Those digital offerings are in addition to the company’s linear channels AMC, BBC America (a joint venture with BBC Studios), IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv and IFC Films.
During Q4, AMC Networks aired the finale of the first portion of the final season of “The Walking Dead” on AMC, and streamed crime drama “Kin” and mystery series “Ragdoll” on AMC Plus. The streaming service also did a slate of movie releases, one a week through November and into December, including a couple of releases that were day-and-date with theatrical.
On Wednesday, AMC Networks reported adjusted diluted EPS of 54 cents on $803.71 million in revenue for its Q4, with revenue increasing 3% year over year. Both results exceeded Wall Street analysts’ estimates.
AMC Networks’ Q4 domestic operations revenue increased 4% overall to $685 million. Distribution revenue was up 7%, with subscription revenue growing 11%, and content licensing and other revenues decreasing 4%. Ad sales were down 1% to $234 million, which reflected AMC Networks’ higher pricing and ad-supported streaming growth, which was partially offset by declining linear ratings.
For the “International and Other” segment, which includes AMC Networks International, its international programming business, and 25/7 Media, its production services business, revenue fell 3% to $122 million compared to the prior year’s Q4. Distribution revenues deceased 15%, while ad sales were up 54%.
The company saw an overall operating income of $64 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, down 21.8% from the same quarter last year. With some favorable adjustments, that income figure rose to 102.8 million, down 23% compared to the previous Q4.
For the full year 2021, net revenue reached a record $3.1 billion, up 9% from 2020. Operating income increased 10.7% to $490 million, and with adjustments it rose 6.5% to $816 million.
“2021 was a strong, pivotal year for AMC Networks. 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,” interim CEO Matt Blank said in a prepared statement accompanying the financials. “We ended the year with more than nine 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. Looking ahead, 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.”
AMC Networks stock closed Tuesday at $44.66 per share. Following its Q4 earnings release Wednesday morning around 7 a.m. ET, stock was up more than 5% in pre-market trading. The regular U.S. stock markets reopened at 9:30 a.m. ET, and by 10 a.m. per-share price had fallen more than 15% — though that dip came alongside other media companies taking a hit, possibly being dragged down by the steep fall of Paramount (the renamed ViacomCBS) stock this morning.