AMC Networks Lost 400,000 SVOD Subs in 2023

In an era of streaming or bust, AMC Networks would appear to be treading water. The media giant Feb. 9 reported it ended the fourth quarter and fiscal year (ended Dec. 31, 2023) with 11.4 million subscription streaming VOD subscribers — down 400,000 subs from 11.8 million subs at the end of 2022.

AMC’s SVOD platforms include AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now, Sundance TV, WE TV, Acorn TV and ALLBLK — the latter two picked up through AMC’s acquisition of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment in 2018.

AMC offset SVOD subscriber churn by collaborating with online TV platform Philo on a new packaging arrangement that will include the AMC+ ad-supported tier in Philo’s base video offering for all new and returning customers, at no additional cost.

The launch of an ad-supported tier in the third quarter has generated “strong” sign-up activity on available platforms, according to AMC, as has the expansion of its free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels business, which now includes 17 FAST channels, representing 100 channel feeds across 11 distribution platforms.

Regardless, AMC remains a dominant producer, with content including “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,” “Dark Winds,” “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon,” Acorn TV’s “Harry Wild,” WE tv’s “Love After Lockup” and “Toya & Reginae,” anime series “OSHI NO KO” on HIDIVE, and theindie film Blackberry.

This year, “Monsieur Spade,” starring Clive Owen, debuted on AMC, AMC+ and Acorn TV. “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” starring series originals Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira, bows on Feb. 25. “Parish,” starring Giancarlo Esposito, debuts on AMC and AMC+ in March. And “Orphan Black: Echoes,” starring Krysten Ritter, set in the world of “Orphan Black,” is set to launch on AMC, AMC+ and BBC AMERICA.

“In the fourth quarter and across 2023, we continued to see success in the areas that will drive this company forward — programming, partnerships and profitability,” CEO Kristin Dolan said in a statement.

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Carroll Promoted to President of Kino Lorber Media Group

Kino Lorber chief strategy officer Ed Carroll has been promoted to president of the Kino Lorber Media Group (KLMG). He reports directly to Richard Lorber, who remains chairman and CEO.

Carroll joined Kino Lorber a year ago from AMC+ and has played a key role in its expansion into digital, including the acquisition of MHz Choice SVOD and forming a joint venture that includes the Topic streaming service. In November, the company launched its new SVOD service, Kino Film Collection, on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels. 

Two of Kino Lorber’s  2023 releases were recently shortlisted for Academy Awards — Kaouther Ben Hania’s Four Daughters in both the Best International Feature and Best Documentary Feature categories, and Nancy Buirski’s Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy in the Best Documentary Feature category. The company’s recent theatrical acquisitions include Venice award-winner Green Border from Polish auteur Agnieszka Holland and the documentary Remembering Gene Wilder.

“Ed’s top-shelf skills and experience profoundly deepen our executive bench, positioning us for overall profitable growth across theatrical, home entertainment, and our new digital paths,” Lorber said. “He’s a terrific leader who inspires our talented team to thrive, and I couldn’t hope for a better Kino brand champion to work with me as a partner in arms as we move our business forward. ”

Carroll enjoyed a three-decade career at AMC Networks, where he oversaw the development of such successful series as “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.” He held various leadership roles including president at Bravo and COO of AMC Networks, where he was in charge of all programming, marketing, ad sales and international distribution. Carroll helmed AMC Networks’ streaming channels including Acorn, Sundance Now, IFC Unlimited and Shudder, and presided over the launch of AMC+. He was also instrumental in AMC’s acquisition of RLJ/Acorn and its equity stake in BBC America.

Reporting to Carroll will be chief operating officer Martha Benyam, who will oversee the MHz Choice and Topic SVODs and the home entertainment group; chief revenue officer Lisa Schwartz, a former president of IFC Films, who will oversee content sales and platform distribution as well as Kino Lorber’s film division; and chief financial officer Judy Silverman, who was previously SVP of Finance at First Look Media and SVP of Finance and Strategic Planning at IFC Films.

Frederick Thomas, founder and president of MHz Networks, will transition to the role of senior advisor to the company. MHz’s national program service Worldview was carried by multiple public television stations across the United States. Thomas created MHz Choice in 2015, launching the nation’s first streaming service dedicated to international series. MHz Now was launched as a FAST channel on TV Plus in 2020. He sold MHz Networks to Kino Lorber in September 2022, and retains a seat on Kino Lorber’s board of directors.

With a library of more than 4,000 titles, Kino Lorber has been a leader in independent art-house distribution for over 45 years, releasing 35 films per year theatrically and garnering seven Academy Award nominations in nine years. 

 

AMC Networks’ Subscription Streaming Business Ups Q3 Subs 4% to 11.1 Million

AMC Networks Nov. 3 reported a 4% increase in third quarter (ended Sept. 30) subscription streaming video subscribers, ending the period with 11.1 million subs compared with 10.7 million subs in the previous-year period. The streaming business added 100,000 subs from the second quarter, ended June 30.

AMC SVOD platforms include British-themed content service Acorn TV, AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now, WE tv, and ALLBLK. The latter (formerly the Urban Movie Channel) and Acorn TV were acquired in the 2016 asset purchase of RLJ Entertainment.

Streaming revenue increased 9% to $142 million from $130.3 million, primarily driven by year-over-year streaming subscriber growth, and management’s continued focus on higher-value subscribers.

In the quarter, AMC+ launched an ad-supported version, bringing ads to the company’s entire distribution ecosystem, while enhancing future bundling opportunities, according to the company.

The company inked a pact with Warner Bros. Discovery to add seven of AMC Networks’ series to the Max platform as a limited promotional pop-up at no additional cost to Max subscribers. The increased exposure drove viewership increases on AMC+ across branded franchises, including “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire” and “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,” among others, according to the company.

Other streaming highlights included premiering “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon,” the most-viewed series premiere on AMC+. WE tv launched new series “Toya & Reginae,” which gained viewers week to week and continues to perform well across sister-streamer ALLBLK, according to the company. And series the “Harry Wild,” starring Jane Seymour, recently returned for a second season on Acorn TV.

Separately, after commencing a restructuring plan last November designed to cut costs due to the ongoing impact of “cord cutting” and the related broader economic outlook, AMC in Q3 substantially completed the plan and exited a portion of its office space in its corporate headquarters in New York and office space in Silver Spring, Md., and Woodland Hills, Calif.

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In connection with exiting a portion of the New York office, the company recorded impairment charges of $11.6 million, consisting of $9.1 million for operating lease right-of use assets and $2.5 million for leasehold improvements.

“During this period of experimentation and change in our industry, we continue to execute on our plan and effectively manage the business with a focus on high-quality programming, strong partnerships and profitability,” CEO Kristin Dolan said in a statement.

AMC Networks International Rebrands U.K. Channels, Streaming Services

AMC Networks International U.K. is rebranding its portfolio of local channels and streaming services owned by the CBS AMC Networks U.K. Channels Partnership, a joint venture with Paramount Global. The rebrand will be rolled out on Nov. 22. 

CBS Reality, which reportedly has been one of the U.K.’s top entertainment channels among adult women since 2016, will be renamed to True Crime, and the streaming brand will change to True Crime U.K.

Sam Rowden

The latter is an ad-supported VOD and free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) service with more than 250 hours of content. The FAST channel is available through multiple platforms, including Amazon Freevee, Rakuten TV and Samsung TV +, with more platforms rolling out shortly.  

Entertainment channel Legend, which features action, sci-fi, adventure and western series and movies, which was renamed from Horror Channel in 2022, will become Watch Free U.K. Other channels in the portfolio to rebrand include Legend XTRA and True Crime XTRA, and time-shift versions Legend XTRA +1 and TRUE CRIME +1. 

Sam Rowden, VP of the content group, said the rebrand closely aligns with management’s aim to provide carefully curated services catering to both existing and new audiences. 

“We wanted to elevate our U.K. portfolio to be more easily recognizable and accessible, and to clearly reflect our content offering,” Rowden said in a statement. 

Current original content includes “Evidence of Evil,” “Murder by the Sea,” “Killers: Caught on Camera,” “Donal Macintyre’s Killer Evidence,” “The Truth About My Murder” and exclusive third-party content, including “Medical Detectives.”

Upcoming content on Legend includes the series “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “Walker, Texas Ranger” and the action movie titles Hard Target and Barb Wire and the thriller Sneakers alongside Jet Pilot and Angel and the Bad Man, starring John Wayne, from the Westerns collection. 

AMC Networks Licenses North American Linear, Streaming Rights to 10-Episode ‘Nautilus’

AMC Networks announced it has licensed the U.S. and Canadian linear and streaming rights to “Nautilus,” a 10-episode live-action series inspired by Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, from Disney Entertainment.

The series will air on AMC and AMC+ as a special television event in 2024. “Nautilus” tells the origin story of Captain Nemo: an Indian Prince robbed of his birthright and family, a prisoner of the East India Mercantile Company and a man bent on revenge against the forces that have taken everything from him. 

The series stars Shazad Latif, Georgia Flood, Thierry Fremont and Céline Menville, with guest appearances from Richard E. Grant, Anna Torv and Noah Taylor. Developed and produced by Moonriver TV’s Xavier Marchand and Seven Stories’ Anand Tucker, the series is written and executive produced by James Dormer and also executive produced by Johanna Devereaux, Chris Loveall, Colleen Woodcock and Daisy Gilbert. Cameron Welsh serves as producer and Michael Matthews is the lead director.

“‘Nautilus’ is a big, sweeping drama that is sure to appeal to fans of our Anne Rice Immortal Universe and other series like ‘Orphan Black: Echoes,'” Ben Davis, EVP of original programming for AMC Networks and AMC Studios, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to bringing it to AMC+ and AMC as a special television event next year.”

Acorn TV Exclusively Launching ‘Mayflies’ Miniseries on Oct. 30

AMC Networks’ British-themed SVOD service Acorn TV will exclusively premiere the two-part miniseries “Mayflies” on Oct. 30.

Written and adapted for TV by BAFTA Award-nominee Andrea Gibb from Andrew O’Hagan’s bestselling Mayflies: A Novel, the limited series stars Martin Compston (“Line of Duty,” “Vigil”), Tony Curran (Your HonorRay Donovan), Ashley Jensen (“Agatha Raisin,” After Life), Tracy Ifeachor (Treason, DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow”), Rian Gordon (“Karen Pirie,” “Outlander”) and Tom Glynn-Carney (“House of the Dragon,” Dunkirk).

A memorial to youth’s euphoria and to everyday tragedy, “Mayflies” tells the story of a tender goodbye to an old union, while discovering joy and the costs of love.

The series is written and adapted for TV by Andrea Gibb, who is also an executive producer, and directed by Peter Mackie Burns. Executive producers are Claire Mundell, Gaynor Holmes, Gavin Smith, Andrew O’Hagan, Adrian Burns and Mark Young. Producer is Brian Kaczynski. The series is a Synchronicity Films Production for BBC. All3Media handles the international distribution.

‘The Walking Dead’ Spin-Off Series ‘Daryl Dixon’ Becomes Most-Viewed Premiere, Season in AMC+ Streaming History

AMC Networks reports that the new episodic series “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon,” featuring “Walking Dead” alum Norman Reedus in the title role, has moved ahead of previous spin-off “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” as the most-viewed premiere of all time on the AMC+ subscription streaming VOD service, and is on pace to be the most-viewed season of any show in the history of AMC+.

The fourth episode of season one delivered season high ratings on AMC in total viewers and both key demos, capping three successive weeks of viewership growth.

In linear viewership, the fourth episode delivered 1.1 million viewers on AMC in Nielsen live+3 ratings and 392,000 adults 25-54. For adults 25-54, Daryl is a top 15 cable drama for 2023 to date in adults 25-54, joining other AMC series “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Dark Winds” in that Top 15 ranking.

“Thanks to Norman Reedus for bringing his ‘bad decisions’ to France, to David Zabel, Scott M. Gimple, Clémence Poésy and the rest of the outstanding cast and to the most passionate and committed fans in entertainment,” Dan McDermott, president of entertainment and AMC Studios for AMC Networks, said in a statement.

“The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon” concludes on Oct. 15. The next series in the expanding “Walking Dead” Universe is “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” starring original cast member Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira, premiering next year on AMC and AMC+.

AMC will bring a special advance screening of the Daryl Dixon season finale to New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, where Reedus, Zabel, Gimple and Nicotero will be in attendance for a panel discussion about the series’ first and upcoming second seasons.

In “Daryl Dixon,” Daryl (Reedus) washes ashore in France and struggles to piece together how he got there and why. The series tracks his journey across a broken but resilient France as he hopes to find a way back home. As he makes the journey, though, the connections he forms along the way complicate his ultimate plan.

In addition to Reedus, the series stars Poésy, Adam Nagaitis, Anne Charrier, Eriq Ebouaney, Laika Blanc Francard, Romain Levi and Louis Puech Scigliuzzi, and is executive produced by Gimple, showrunner Zabel, Reedus, Greg Nicotero, Angela Kang, Brian Bockrath, Jason Richman and Daniel Percival. 

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WBD CEO: Max Looking to Bundle Sports, Third-Party Content, Including AMC Networks Shows

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max streaming platform is looking to expand its content offering beyond Warner Bros. Pictures’ movies and TV shows, HBO and Discovery reality programming.

The platform is incorporating the rebooted CNN Max live news offering as well as AMC Networks digital programming. Up next is sports content, including live games, according to CEO David Zaslav.

Speaking at this week’s Goldman Sachs Communacopia & Technology Conference Conference in San Francisco, Zaslav said he believes the future of streaming video is bundling similar and competing platforms to activate a quicker consumer transition to streaming by creating more value.

Two weeks ago, AMC Networks and Warner Bros. Discovery partnered to put all of AMC’s original content such as “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Dark Winds” and “Interview with the Vampire,” among other shows, on Max for the next 60 days.

“Let’s see whether that helps grow AMC’s direct to consumer product,” Zaslav said.

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WBD has linear and digital rights to college basketball’s national championship “March Madness” tournament and the NHL well into the 2030s. The company has MLB rights until 2028 and NBA rights through 2025.

“The ability to recapture audience on digital with no incremental course of sports rights is quite attractive,” Zaslav said. “We own our content in a way that we think we can make money. It’s not going to make sense to do a deal for anything and jeopardize the economic trend we have at this company in order to own another piece of IP.”

AMC Networks Ups Q2 SVOD Subscribers to 11 Million

AMC Networks, with subscription streaming video assets that include Acorn TV, AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK, Aug. 4 reported a 6% gain in SVOD subscribers to 11 million in the second quarter ended June 30, compared with 10.3 million subs in the prior-year period.

ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel) and Acorn TV were acquired in the 2016 acquisition of RLJ Entertainment.

AMC actually had 11.3 million subs at the end of the first quarter ended March 31, but after updating its subscriber definition to no longer include estimated subscriber conversions, the company downsized its overall subscriber base by 300,000.

Streaming revenue increased 13% to $137 million from $121.2 million, primarily driven by year-over-year streaming subscriber growth and 2022 price increases.

During Q2, AMC+ began exclusively streaming the first seven seasons of “Fear the Walking Dead” in July. The SVOD platform also premiered “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” the top-performing season premiere in the history of AMC+ in terms of viewership across all new and returning series.

AMC+ debuted on Charter, making the streaming service available to Spectrum TV customers through the cabler’s set-top box.

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Newly appointed CEO Kristin Dolan said AMC would continue to focus on producing “high-quality” content, which appears to include repeated trips to the “Walking Dead” IP portfolio.

AMC on Sept. 10 will premiere of “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon,” which is set in France. It has also completed production of “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” which is focused on the Rick and Michonne characters and is slated to premiere in 2024.

“It’s clear we have the programming, the platforms and the partners necessary to continue to operate a very profitable business that delivers long-term shareholder value,” Dolan said in a statement.

Chicken Soup Adds FAST Channels in AMC Networks Deal

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment on May 15 announced it has signed a deal with AMC Networks to add 12 free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels. These new channels include the post-apocalyptic horror drama “The Walking Dead,” the sketch comedy series “Portlandia,” and the sports fan-focused “MSG SportsZone.” The channels will soon be available and can be accessed through the Redbox app on Roku, Samsung TVs, and many other devices.

The Redbox Free Live TV service will soon surpass 180 FAST channels and expects to eclipse 200 by early summer. The company recently announced adding channels from Fremantle Media, including “The Jamie Oliver Channel” and “Supermarket Sweep.” 

“The Walking Dead and Portlandia are some of AMC Networks’ most iconic series, and the ability for our consumers to watch them 24 hours a day will be an immediate hit,” said Laura Florence, SVP and GM of digital for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “Our Redbox Free Live TV app continues to scale with brands and series our viewers know and love. We should quickly reach 200 channels by summer and have plans to scale even further later this year.”

The AMC channels coming to Redbox Live TV are “The Walking Dead Universe,” “Portlandia,” “Stories by AMC,” “AMC Thrillers,” “Slightly Off IFC,” “IFC Films Picks,” “All Reality WE tv,” “All Weddings WE tv,” “AMC en Español,” “ALLBLK Gems,” “MSG SportsZone” and “Anime X HIDIVE.”

The Redbox streaming app can be accessed through Roku, Samsung TVs, VIZIO TVs, and many others. The app also features an AVOD streaming platform with thousands of free movies and TV series, access to thousands of movies and TV series to rent or purchase, and nearly 180 FAST channels.