AMC Networks Tops 6 Million Streaming Subs, U.S. Ad Sales Drop 6% in Final 2020 Quarter

Still, the Josh Sapan-led company beat Wall Street’s earnings and revenue estimates

Last Updated: February 26, 2021 @ 7:09 AM

AMC Networks topped 6 million streaming subscribers across its subscription video on demand platforms last December, hitting its projection of reaching more than 4 million by the end of 2020, the company revealed while reporting its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings Friday.

That subscriber growth, which is up 157% from 2019, counts customers across AMC Networks’ AMC+ (which launched last June on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex and has since expanded to Dish, Sling TV, Apple TV and Amazon’s Prime Video), Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK.

Also during Q4 2020, which counts the three months ending Dec. 31, ad sales at AMC Networks’ national networks, dropped 5.5% compared to Q4 of the prior year. That includes ad revenues from AMC, WE tv, BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios.

“The decrease in advertising revenues was primarily related to shifts in the timing of original programming as a result of production delays caused by the pandemic, resulting in lower inventory, partially offset by CPM increases driven by healthy scatter pricing,” the company said in a statement. Distribution revenue at domestic networks was down 1.2% and revenue at the segment as a whole dropped 3% versus the year-ago quarter.

AMC Networks’ “International and Other” revenues for Q4 increased 7.5%, growth that is attributed to the bump in subscription sales at AMC Networks Streaming Services.

Overall, revenues at AMC Networks dipped 0.6% in the fourth-quarter of 2020 from the comparable quarter in 2019 to $780 million. For the full year, revenue was $2.815 billion, down 8% from 2019.

The company reported an operating income increase of 95.1% for Q4 2020 compared to the same year-ago quarter and an operating income for 2020 as a whole that was -29.2% versus 2019. (After some adjustments, those figures changed to -33.3% and -18.8%.)

AMC Networks beat analysts expectations for the quarter, with Wall Street forecasting earnings per share (EPS) of 52 cents on $705.01 million in revenue, according to a consensus compiled by Yahoo Finance. On Friday, AMC Networks reported adjusted EPS of $2.72 on $780 million in revenue.

Regarding the effects of the sale of FuboTV shares, AMC Networks said: “For the year ended December 31, 2020, AMC Networks recognized a gain of $76 million related to its shares of FuboTV Inc. AMC Networks sold 3,593,494 shares of FUBO common stock in multiple transactions occurring in December 2020 and January 2021. Realizing total gross proceeds of $96 million in January 2021. As of the date of this release, AMC Networks does not hold any shares of FuboTV common stock.”

“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,” president and chief executive officer Josh Sapan said in prepared remarks accompanying the financials. “Our digital advertising initiatives are a key priority, including expanded distribution of our content on AVOD and FAST platforms.”

AMC Networks has undergone changes in recent months, first laying off nearly 100 staffers in a reorganization centered around streaming operations in November. Soon after that, AMC Networks named Aisha Thomas-Petit its chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, promoted Brett Dismuke to general manager of WE tv and ALLBLK (formerly known as UMC), and hired ViacomCBS’ Chrstina Spade as chief financial officer.

AMC Networks stock (AMCX) closed Thursday at $53.07 a share. The regular U.S. stock markets will reopen at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Sapan and his fellow AMC executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET today to discuss the Q4 and full-year results in greater detail.