AMC Turns a Profit as Streaming Subs Top Targets

AMC Plus Gangs of London
'Gangs of London' is one of the most-popular shows on AMC Plus. (Image credit: AMC)

AMC Networks turned a fourth-quarter profit as its streaming networks exceeded their subscriber targets, but its national cable networks faltered.

The news about its streaming networks drove AMC Networks' stock up 23% to more than $65 a share in afternoon trading.

The company said it has more than 6 million subscribers to its direct-to-consumer services including Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and AllBlk. Subscriber growth was 157% year over year. 

The growth put the company three years ahead of plan, according to CEO Josh Sapan.

Sapan said AMC expects to have 9 million paid subscribers by yearend 2021 and 20 million to 25 million by 2025.

AMC noted that its AMC Plus product is being offered by MVPDs including Comcast, Dish and DirecTV, as well as the streaming platforms Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels and Roku. 

Gangs of London, A Discovery of Witches and Riviera broke into the top ten most watched series on AMC Plus, the company said.

AMC also said it has ad-supported streaming channels on Pluto TV, Amazon’s IMDb TV, Sling TV, Samsung TV Plus and Vizio’s SmartCast.

AMC said it sold 3.6 million shares of FuboTV in December and January for $96 million. AMC recognized a gain of $76 million as a result of the sale and no longer has a stake in FuboTV.

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Meanwhile at AMC’s national cable networks, operating income was down 7.9% to $143.8 million, as revenue dropped 3% to $571.2 million.

Ad revenue was down 5.5% to $237 million. The company said the decline was caused by shifts in timing of original programming resulting from COVID-related production delays.

Distribution revenue was down 1.2% to $334 million.

Overall, AMC Networks had a fourth quarter profit of $94.7 million, or $2.09 a share, compared to a loss of $8.6 million, or 15 cents a share, a year ago.

“2020 was a year of strong performance for AMC Networks, as we continued to transform our company while successfully navigating what has been a uniquely challenging and uncertain operating environment,” said Sapan. 

“AMC Networks is now the worldwide leader in targeted streaming and, with the addition of our new AMC Plus  premium bundled offering, streaming is now the most significant growth area of our company,” he said, adding that “our distribution relationships are strong, now supported by our streaming offerings, with our ability to complete several renewals in 2020 underscoring the continued strength and attractive value of our linear cable channels.”

Sapan concluded: “We believe there are significant and sustainable opportunities before us as we continue to reconstitute our company.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.