AMC Networks said it ended the fourth quarter with 9 million subscribers across a lineup of targeted subscription streaming services that includes AMC Plus, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, AllBlk and the recently acquired HiDive.
The subscriber benchmark matched the media company's guidance, as did a 3% year over year uptick in Q4 revenue to $803.7 million.
With net revenue reaching a record $3.1 billion, up 9% from 2020, and operating income increasing 10.7% to $490 million, AMC interim CEO called 2021 a "strong, pivotal year" for the media company.
AMC, of course, is in a race to offset cord-cutting-related declines in a portfolio of linear channels that includes not just the AMC flagship network, but also joint venture BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv and IFC Films.
To put its 9 million subscriber benchmark in place, that's less than half of the 19.7 million paid streaming subscribers touted by Lionsgate, another relative media company small fish seeking DTC scale among much larger predators.
AMC does forecasts SVOD subscriber growth of 400,000 to 500,000 users in the first quarter and expects to have between 20 million and 25 million subscription streaming users by 2025.
“Our differentiated and targeted streaming strategy is clearly working,” said COO and CFO Christina Spade on Wednesday's earnings call.
To achieve its goals, AMC would seem to be in need of fresh hits. AMC's 2021 growth spurt was attributed to some degree to the first part of the 11th and final season of zombie series The Walking Dead, which unfurled between August and October. The final 16 episodes of that 24-installment final season began airing this past Sunday night.
On April 18, AMC will begin airing the final 13 episodes of critically lauded Breaking Bad origins series Better Call Saul.
What will be left after Walking Dead and Saul leave for good? On Feb. 27, AMC has the Season 4 premiere of Killing Eve, starring Emmy winner Jodie Comer, queued up. But it would seem to definitely more water cooler hit power to drive serious AMC Plus signups. ■
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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