AMC tops 9 million streaming subscribers as 2021 revenue hits record high

AMC Networks notched the goal of nine-million-plus subscribers that it set for itself a year ago.

The achievement that led off the New York firm’s earnings news for the fourth quarter of 2021 might not seem like much a day after Paramount announced it had gained more than 9 million streaming subscribers in that quarter alone. But on AMC’s earnings call, company executives emphasized that they continue to bank on huge individual interests rather than huge audiences.

“We’re not trying to be something for everyone,” CEO Matthew Blank said. “We are instead trying to be everything to someone.”

AMC reported net income of $17 million in Q4 on revenues of $804 million (down from $95 million in revenue for the year-ago quarter) and earnings per share of $.39 compared to $2.09 12 months before. Over the full year, AMC recorded $251 million in net income on record-high revenue of $3.1 billion.

“Our differentiated and targeted streaming strategy is clearly working,” said COO and CFO Christina Spade on the call, adding that this momentum left the company “well positioned” to hit its next goal of 20 to 25 million streaming subscribers by the end of 2025.

RELATED: AMC outlines small but ‘transformational’ streaming strategy

Blank, Spade and streaming-services president Miquel Penella each emphasized the appeal of AMC content to such distinct audiences as horror connoisseurs (its Shudder streaming service), Anglophiles (Acorn TV) and anime superfans (a demographic AMC reached for in the quarter by buying the anime distributor Sentai).

“The annual revenue from each customer far exceeds what we spend on content,” said Penella. “We also build a community around each one of our services,” he added, citing such examples as Acorn TV arranging tours for viewers of the U.K. settings of its series.

The three executives said they expect an especially strong 2022 as flagship AMC series like Better Call Saul, Killing Eve, and the Walking Dead reach their finales on its AMC+ streaming service while new series such the courtroom drama 61st Street and two titles based on novelist Anne Rice’s gothic work will debut on that $8.99/month service.

AMC felt confident enough in that content’s appeal to buy a Super Bowl ad highlighting AMC+, which led to one question during the call about the $6.5 million expense of a Super Bowl spot.

“As we begin a year with our best content in history, you’re going to see us doing a lot of marketing to support that content,” Blank said. “The Super Bowl spot was just one part of it.”

Spade then suggested that the question meant the ad had worked: “It’s great that you saw the commercial! It’s all good.”