AMC Networks had many positives to point to for all of 2017, including record full-year revenue of $2.8 billion, but the cable programmer posted a middling fourth quarter, with revenue and profit down on an adjusted basis.
Total revenue drifted down a fraction of a percent to $727 million. Adjusted operating income of $206 million was off 3.4% from the same period a year ago.
The environment is not getting any less challenging for a pure-play cable programmer, although CEO Josh Sapan pointed out the bright spots in the company’s earnings release. The 2017 results, he said, marked the seventh consecutive year of revenue and adjusted operating income increases since AMC Networks became a public company.
Four of the top 10 shows on cable in 2017 — The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Better Call Saul and Into the Badlands — aired on AMC. After recent deals with fuboTV and Philo, Sapan said, the company has its networks on more virtual MVPD, “skinny bundle” services than any competitor. Newer initiatives like the ad-free subscription version of AMC and horror streaming service Shudder are gaining traction, he added, though numbers were not given.
Distribution gains drove full-year results, with the company adding a net 11 million subscribers across all of its networks and also seeing some of the return on its investment on in-house production. In all, distribution revenue set a record for the year with $1.6 billion, up 6.6% from the prior year. Advertising was the major albatross, however, with those revenues decreasing 3% for all of 2017, reaching $960 million.