AMC Networks Increased Q2 SVOD Subs to 10.8 Million

AMC Networks Aug. 5 said it added 1.3 million subscription streaming video subscribers in the second quarter (ended June 30), to end the period with 10.8 million. The sub growth was led by the launch of the AMC+ streaming bundle platform in Spain.

AMC’s other streaming services include Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, ALLBLK, and the newest addition to its streaming portfolio, the anime focused HIDIVE.

The company said it remains on track to achieve long-term subscriber goal of 20 million to 25 million streaming subscribers by 2025.

In the quarter, AMC received 12 Emmy nominations, including seven for “Better Call Saul,” renewed two AMC original series, “Moonhaven” and “Dark Winds,” for second seasons. Ordered a third new series in “The Walking Dead” universe, featuring original stars Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira.

Acquired North American rights to new series “Monsieur Spade,” from Emmy Winners Scott Frank and Tom Fontana, featuring Clive Owen in the role of Sam Spade, the character created by Dashiell Hammett and featured in The Maltese Falcon.

The company expanded its streaming distribution footprint in India with the launch of AMC+ on Amazon Prime Video Channels.

Net revenue decreased 4% to $738 million from $771 million in the previous-year period, while streaming revenue grew 20% offset by several timing impacts in the quarter, including expected lower affiliate, content licensing, and advertising revenue, and unfavorable foreign exchange translation. Consolidated operating income fell 22% to $195.5 million from $250 million last year.

“As we leverage our strong linear business, we are seeing increasing demand for our digital and advanced advertising opportunities,” Mark Blank, outgoing interim CEO said in a statement.

Blank, who is being replaced by the promotion of CFO Christina Spade to the CEO position in September, said AMC’s content creation strengths were on full display in the quarter, with viewership records, widespread critical acclaim for new and returning series including for “Better Call Saul” and “Dark Winds,” and Emmy Award nominations across major categories.

“We are building our business in a steady, disciplined and sustainable fashion, positioning ourselves for future growth and delivering shareholder value,” Blank said.

AMC Networks Ups Christina Spade to CEO, Names Patrick O’Connell CFO

AMC Networks Aug. 5 announced that chief operating officer and chief financial officer Christina Spade will be the company’s next chief executive officer, effective  Sept. 9.

Christina Spade

Spade, a media and entertainment industry veteran who previously held senior roles at ViacomCBS, CBS Corporation and Showtime, will succeed Matt Blank, who has been serving in a year-long role as interim CEO of AMC Networks since last September.

Patrick O’Connell, previously a senior executive at CBS Corporation and Goldman Sachs, has been named the company’s CFO and will report to Spade.

AMC Networks Chairman James Dolan, who thanked Blank for his year-long leadership, said Spade is a “proven leader” with a long track record driving transformative change in media and entertainment.

“I am confident she has the expertise and vision to guide AMC Networks to greater success,” Dolan said in a statement.

The executive appointments come as AMC Networks continues to pursue a streaming strategy targeting distinct audiences. Its streaming portfolio includes AMC+ and targeted platforms Acorn TV, ALLBLK, HIDIVE, Shudder and Sundance Now, and now reaches 10.8 million paying subscribers in aggregate through the second quarter (ended June 30) and is on track to reach 20-25 million subs in 2025.

Patrick O’Connell

AMC’s streaming platforms reached a combined 9.5 million subscribers in the previous-year period

The company is in the midst of a big original programming push, continuing its track record of creating popular and acclaimed content, including the Emmy Award-nominated “Better Call Saul,” new series “Moonhaven,” “Dark Winds,” and “This is Going to Hurt” and the upcoming debut of its next big franchise with “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire,” driving growth across its streaming portfolio and linear business.

Spade joined AMC Networks as CFO in January 2021 and was soon promoted to a new dual role of COO and CFO in November 2021. In this role she oversaw AMC Networks’ businesses, financial operations as well as investor relations and global technology.

O’Connell joins AMC Networks from BRANDED, a consumer e-commerce company where he led strategic planning, financing and acquisitions.

Prior to joining BRANDED, O’Connell was head of corporate development at CBS Corporation, where he was responsible for firm-wide strategy, financial forecasting, capital allocation and mergers and acquisitions. At CBS he led highly complex transactions, including the merger between CBS and Viacom and the divestiture of CBS Radio.

AMC Networks Announces 2022 San Diego Comic-Con Plans: ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’

AMC Networks has announced its lineup of panels and events at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con International, which runs July 21 to 24 at the San Diego Convention Center.

The agenda includes the final panel for “The Walking Dead” ahead of its final episodes this fall; the Comic-Con debut panel for “Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire”; a panel for “Tales of the Walking Dead,” the new episodic anthology within the “Walking Dead” universe debuting Aug. 14; and Shudder’s new docu-series “Queer for Fear,” premiering this fall.

In addition to its panels, AMC Networks is returning to the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Hotel to transform the Skylight Terrace and Gaslamp ballroom into The Walking Dead Fan Celebration, an in-world activation at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 22, reuniting Comic-Con and “TWD” fans to relive some of the most iconic moments and characters from the past eleven seasons.

Fans will be treated to a variety of exclusive experiences, designed specifically for San Diego Comic-Con, including an impressive collection of series setpieces, props and artifacts from all seasons, showcasing the series’ artistry and craft, and offering fans the chance to capture photos and videos among their favorite elements from the series. Custom video content will also highlight memorable “TWD” moments, and include special messages from cast and crew.

AMC will distribute custom-designed “TWD” enamel pins, representing iconic images from the show’s eleven seasons, plus one bonus design pin commemorating the Walking Dead Fan Celebration.

Attendees will have the opportunity to choose from four custom-designed screen-printed T-shirts honoring the series, available exclusively that evening; transform themselves into the undead after visiting a Walking Dead-inspired walker make-up station; enjoy the Commonwealth’s “Taste of Tradition” ice cream flavors, along with themed beverages and food; and participate in a Commonwealth-inspired lottery for additional giveaways.

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The “Tales of the Walking Dead” panel takes place at 12:30 p.m. PT Friday, July 22 in Hall H. The panel will introduce fans to this new episodic anthology consisting of six original one-hour standalone episodes focused on both new and established characters within the walker apocalypse. The stakes are high in each story, pushing new, indelible characters with relentless, life-threatening choices and situations as we get to see the apocalypse through different eyes, discovering more worlds, mythos, and mysteries of the Walking Dead. Moderated by Chris Hardwick (“Talking Dead”), the panel will feature chief content officer of the “Walking Dead” universe, Scott M. Gimple, showrunner and executive producer Channing Powell, director and executive producer Michael Satrazemis, and cast members Terry Crews (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Samantha Morton (“The Walking Dead,” “Harlots”) and Danny Ramirez (Top Gun: Maverick), with additional cast pending.

The panel for “The Walking Dead” season 11C will take follow at 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 22 in Hall H, also moderated by Hardwick. Gimple will be joined by showrunner and executive producer Angela Kang, executive producer, director and special effects makeup supervisor Greg Nicotero, and cast members Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Christian Serratos, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Seth Gilliam, Josh McDermitt, Michael James Shaw, Cailey Fleming and Lauren Ridloff as they answer fan questions, share behind-the-scenes stories about filming the final season, and reveal the highly anticipated trailer for season 11.

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The “Queer for Fear” panel takes place at 4:45 p.m. PT on Friday, July 22, in room 6A, focusing on the upcoming Shudder Original four-part documentary series about the history of Queer people in the thriller/horror genre. The discussion includes executive producers Bryan Fuller and Steak House, interviewee and filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, and interviewee and podcaster Renée “Nay” Bever.

“Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire” panel takes place at 2 p.m. PT Saturday, July 23, in Ballroom 20. The highly anticipated first series in AMC Networks’ Anne Rice collection makes its Comic-Con panel debut with executive producer Mark Johnson, showrunner Rolin Jones, cast members Sam Reid, Jacob Anderson, Bailey Bass and Eric Bogosian, and production designer Mara LePere Schloop, as they discuss bringing the world of early 1900s New Orleans to life and debuting a first official series trailer.

 

Carol Burnett to Guest Star in Sixth and Final Season of ‘Better Call Saul’

Six-time Emmy winner Carol Burnett will appear as a guest star in the sixth and final season of “Better Call Saul,” portraying a character named “Marion.” In addition to Burnett, as previously announced, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul will appear reprising their “Breaking Bad” roles of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, respectively, as the show draws to its conclusion.

The series, produced by Sony Pictures Television, returns for its final episodes beginning July 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC and AMC+, with the series finale on Aug. 15.  The final episodes will conclude the complicated journey and transformation of its compromised hero, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), into criminal lawyer Saul Goodman.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of my favorite show,” 89-year-old Burnett said in a statement.

The series ended the first half of its current sixth season as the No. 1 acquisition driver in the history of the AMC+ streaming service, and the No. 3 cable drama for the current broadcast season in key demos. The mid-season finale on May 23 delivered more than 2.2 million viewers in Nielsen live+3 ratings.

Since its season premiere, “Better Call Saul” has generated more than 17 million engagements across social platforms, ranking as the No. 1 drama on broadcast and cable for conversation and organic search and the No. 1 cable drama in owned social engagement and content shares, according to data from ListenFirst.

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AMC Networks Streaming Services Added 500,000 Subs in Q1

AMC Networks, whose streaming services include British-themed Acorn TV, AMC+, horror-based Shudder, Sundance Now, ALLBLK, and anime focused HIDIVE, said its direct-to-consumer platforms added a combined 500,000 subscribers in the first quarter ended March 31.

The platforms ended the quarter with 9.5 million subs. AMC says the D2C unit remains on track to achieve long-term subscriber goal of 20 million to 25 million streaming subs by 2025.

Acorn TV and ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel) were acquired through AMC’s 2018 acquisition of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment.

In the quarter, AMC launched several free ad-supported streaming TV channels, including AMC en Español, ALLBLK Gems, HIDIVE x ANIME, Shorts, Cortos, and OVERTIME.

“We continue to advance our differentiated strategy of offering streaming services that appeal to audiences with distinct affinities and passions, which is leading to strong consumer loyalty and low churn,” Interim CEO Matt Blank said in a statement.

In the quarter, AMC greenlit AMC+ and AMC original series “The Walking Dead Universe’s Isle of the Dead,” starring Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’ “Straight Man,” starring Bob Odenkirk’ “The Driver,” starring Giancarlo Esposito, and “Orphan Black: Echoes.”

The company reinvented IFC Films’ Pay-1 window to offer exclusive movies on AMC+, every Friday, beginning May 6. It also launched the AMC+ streaming bundle in India on Apple TV Channels. The bundle includes The Walking Dead Experience, Shudder, Sundance Now and IFC Films Unlimited.

Separately, AMC’s “international and other” business segment, which includes RLJ Entertainment, saw revenue decline 9% to $110 million from $120.8 million in the previous-year period.

AMC Networks Streaming Services Ended 2021 With 9 Million Paid Subscribers

AMC Networks Feb. 16 said it ended fiscal 2021 with 9 million paid subscribers across its direct-to-consumer platforms that include Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel) and AMC+. That compares with 6 million combined subs at the end of fiscal 2020.

ALLBLK and Acorn TV come from AMC’s $65 million acquisition of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment in 2018.

Last year, AMC launched branded AMC+ premium subscription bundle in Canada and Australia on Apple TV channels and Amazon Prime Video Channels. The media company also expanded key franchises with renewal of “Fear the Walking Dead” for an eighth season, commencement of production of “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire” and greenlight of “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches.”

“2021 was a strong, pivotal year for AMC Networks,” Matt Blank, interim CEO, said in a statement. “We ended the year with … a significant [streaming subscribers] milestone driven by the strength of our brands and the depth of content within each of our offerings.”

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AMC expanded its over-the-top video platforms with the acquisition of global anime content distributor Sentai and the HIDIVE anime streaming service.

“We deepened our position as a global leader in targeted streaming,” Blank said.

AMC Networks, Comcast Reach New Multiyear Distribution Agreement — That Includes Streaming

AMC Networks and Comcast Cable Jan. 31 announced a new multiyear distribution agreement that includes continued carriage of AMC Networks’ linear networks and expanded availability of its targeted streaming services (Acorn TV, AMC+, etc.) to Xfinity TV and broadband customers. AMC+ was first launched to Xfinity customers in the summer of 2020 and has grown rapidly since.

“We are excited to continue and also expand our longstanding partnership with Comcast through a new agreement that includes not only continued carriage of our cable networks, but also our fast-growing targeted streaming services,” Josh Reader, president of distribution and development for AMC Networks, said in a statement.

Reader said 2022 would be the biggest year of original programming in AMC’s history with final seasons of “The Walking Dead” — the highest-rated series in the history of cable television — “Killing Eve” and “Better Call Saul.” The year will also feature a wide array of new series, including the courtroom drama “61st Street,” “Dark Winds,” “Tales of the Walking Dead,” “Moonhaven” and the first two series in an Anne Rice universe, “Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire” and “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches.”

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Animated Horror Film ‘The Spine of Night’ Gets Feb. 1 Disc, Digital Release

RLJE Films and Shudder on Feb. 1 will release the animated horror film The Spine of Night on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as in a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook that includes a DVD and standard Blu-ray.

The film premiered in theaters, on demand and through digital retailers in October. Both RLJE Films and Shudder are owned by AMC Networks.

The Spine of Night stars Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”), Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), Betty Gabriel (Get Out) and Joe Manganiello (“True Blood”).

The film was co-written and co-directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King.

The DVD will be available at a suggested retail price (SRP) of $27.97, the Blu-ray at $28.96, and the 4K UHD/Blu-ray/DVD Steelbook at $35.97. 

The film is an epic fantasy about the history of a land that never was. It begins when an ambitious young man steals forbidden knowledge from a sacred plant. He falls to its darker temptations and, in so doing, unleashes ages of suffering onto mankind. As his power grows over the years, it falls to people of different ilk and culture to attempt to stop him. Among those who stand against him are a daring tomb-robber, star-crossed lovers, a maniacal necromancer, winged assassins, and an undying guardian.

RLJE Sets Feb. 1 DVD, Blu-ray, Digital Release Date for Shudder Original ‘Superhost’

RLJE Films on Feb. 1 will release the horror film Superhost on VOD, digital, DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Home distribution rights were acquired from Shudder, the streaming service owned by AMC Networks, which also owns RLJE.

Directed and written by Brandon Christensen, Superhost stars Sara Canning (“9-1-1”, “Nancy Drew”), Osric Chau (“The Flash”, “Nancy Drew”), Gracie Gillam (“Z Nation,” “Scream Queens”) and Barbara Crampton (Jakob’s Wife). The DVD will be available at a suggested retail price of $27.97 and the Blu-ray Disc at $28.96.

In the film, Teddy and Claire are travel vloggers who run a channel called “SUPERHOST,” where they travel and share their experiences in and around vacation homes. Their initial success, however, has begun to ebb, and with a dwindling subscriber count they decide to create viral content around a fascinating woman named Rebecca, their most recent host. Bad choice.

Bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc include a director commentary, behind-the-scenes footage and photos, and a mini-documentary on shooting a film during a pandemic.

AMC’s RLJE Films Unit Sets Dec. 14 DVD, Blu-ray Disc Dates for ‘South of Heaven’

RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, will release South of Heaven on Dec. 14 on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Directed by Aharon Keshales, the film centers around convicted felon Jimmy (Jason Sudeikis), who gets early parole after serving 12 years in prison for armed robbery. Upon his release he vows to give his girlfriend Annie (Evangeline Lilly), who is dying of cancer, the best last year of her life. But things are never that simple, and when he is given a “side job” from his parole officer (Shea Whigham), it sets off a series of events that leaves Jimmy in the crosshairs of a local crime boss (Mike Colter). 

Keshales co-wrote the film with Kai Mark and Navot Papushado (Gunpowder Milkshake).  

The DVD carries a suggested retail price (SRP) of $29.26 and the Blu-ray Disc, $29.97.

Bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc include a “meet the cast” featurette and a mini-documentary on the making of the film.