AMC reaches 11M paid subscribers, boasts strong series franchises

AMC Networks touted strong streaming growth in the third quarter, driven by the company’s management of new and existing franchises.

As of September 30, AMC’s paid subscriber count now stands at 11.1 million, representing a 44% increase from the prior year. Subscription revenues in turn grew 8% year-over-year.

On the content front, this quarter saw AMC’s premiere of “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire” on October 2.  The series was ranked the “most successful launch in the history of AMC+,” according to AMC Networks CEO Christina Spade.

Speaking on Friday’s earnings call, Spade cited Parrot Analytics findings that indicated audience demand for “Interview with the Vampire” is nearly 25-times the demand for the average show in the U.S.

The show’s engagement levels underscore AMC’s ability “to punch well above our weight and create sought-after content that garners outside attention and engagement,” she said.

“Interview with the Vampire” marks the beginning of AMC’s Anne Rice Immortal Universe franchise. The franchise’s next series, “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,” premieres on January 8 on AMC’s cable network and AMC+.

Still going strong is AMC’s “The Walking Dead” flagship series, which is set to wrap up its eleventh and final season on November 20. But the series’ expanded universe is far from over, as AMC is developing three new spin-off series and is continuing to air the “Fear the Walking Dead” prequel.

Spade said the spin-offs will “propel this vibrant and vital global franchise in exciting new ways, engaging loyal fans who display affinity and enthusiasm for this universe while appealing to a whole new generation of viewers as well.”

With both “Interview with the Vampire” and “The Walking Dead,” Spade highlighted AMC’s effective franchise management and long-term IP ownership strategy.

“The successful launch of a powerful new universe and the effective management of an iconic one, enabling us to serve existing fans while opening the door to new fans,” she noted.

AMC is implementing a similar approach to its recently completed “Better Call Saul” series, as the network is currently producing two new shows starring Bob Odenkirk and Giancarlo Esposito, respectively.

Regarding content ownership, AMC’s goal is to fuel maximum multi-platform revenue monetization, Spade added.

“Strategically prioritizing content ownership, especially for our franchises, provides optionality in terms of windowing content across our efficient and dynamic ecosystem of owned platforms,” she said, which in turn bolsters AMC’s ability to license content to third parties – especially on the international level.

This quarter, AMC+ expanded its streaming distribution to Australia, New Zealand and Spain.

In the ad-supported streaming space, AMC has 14 free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels across seven platforms, including Roku, Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, Vizio, Plex, Sling and Comcast’s Xumo.

The Roku Channel this week added 11 AMC FAST channels to its linear TV lineup, as part of a new multi-year deal between the companies. The most notable addition is a channel exclusive to the Roku platform – AMC Showcase – featuring AMC hit dramas such as “Mad Men.”

AMC’s FAST approach differs from that of other content providers, said AMC Networks Chief Commerical Officer Kim Kelleher, because the company optimizes channel performance “in a very concerted partnership way.”

“We do all the programming and scheduling, with our partners of these channels constantly tweaking…regularly going back and making sure that we’re creating a viewer experience that is optimal and representative of our brand,” she said, adding the FAST channels are drawing a growing cohort of younger audiences to AMC.

AMC’s net revenues decreased 16% year-over-year to $682 million, mainly driven by the timing of content licensing revenues and lower affiliate and advertising revenues. Streaming revenue partly offset that decline, growing 41% year-over-year. Operating income dropped 20% from Q3 2021 to $151 million.