License Loss Impact, Plan; New PRHPS Deal; the Fate of IDW Games
Posted by Milton Griepp on January 25, 2022 @ 2:49 am CT
IDW Publishing revealed last week that two of its Hasbro licenses, G.I. Joe and Transformers will conclude at the end of 2022 (see "IDW’s Licenses to Conclude"). In its annual report, the company disclosed that it expects that the loss of the licenses would impact sales by around $1.2 million in the current year. Its plan to replace those sales is to increase sales of its remaining licensed brands, and to expand the publication of original material. New originals are planned for July, with five to six new titles spanning the fiscal year. The company plans to double its quantities of original material each fiscal year.
"We are scaling up to develop approximately 40 original titles annually, which is more than double the levels of previous years," CEO Ezra Rosensaft said, "and we continue to aggressively pursue new creators and titles. We now have the people, processes, cost discipline, and enhanced balance sheet to best leverage those properties."
Hasbro notified IDW of its plan to move the licenses in October 2021. The actual end of the agreement is effective March 2023.
The filings also revealed more about the deal to move IDW’s direct market distribution from Diamond Comic Distributors to Penguin Random House Publisher Services. The deal, announced last September, takes effect in June (see "IDW Moves Direct Market Distribution"). IDW’s original deal with PRHPS for book channel distribution began in 2016 and expired (with one renewal) in June 2022. The new deal runs until March 31, 2024.
Back in March 2021, based on staff changes and release plans, we noted that it looked like IDW was winding down its game publishing operations (see "IDW Publishing Sales Decline, Swings to Loss"). Now IDW has made it official, declaring, "In calendar 2021, the Company wound down IDW Games and, going forward, IDW Games is only backfilling final orders."
There were no big surprises in the financial results reported. Q4 IDW Publishing sales declined from $7.7 million in Q4 2020 to $6.9 million in Q4 2021, which the company attributed to tough comps against a period in 2020 when Top Shelf Productions titles (the March series, most importantly) were experiencing "exceptional demand" (see "Q4 Sales Highest in Four Years"). The publishing division generated a $0.04 million profit in its fiscal Q4 2021, compared to a $0.5 million profit in the year ago period. The sales decline and higher severance pay were causes of the profitability decline, the company said.
For the full fiscal year, IDW Publishing sales increased to $25.3 million from $23.9 million in the year ago period, behind improvements in direct market sales (especially TMNT: The Last Ronin) and an increase in game sales over the previous year. For the year, IDW Publishing lost $0.8 million, down from a $0.1 million loss in fiscal year 2020. The decline in sales of backlist book titles and increased compensation and marketing expenses were cited as causes of the profitability decline.
With almost no IDW Entertainment revenues in IDW Media Holdings’ fiscal Q4, sales for the full company were only $7.1 million, down from $10.1 million in the year ago period. The full company loss was $0.7 million, an improvement from the $2.0 million loss in Q4 2020.
For the year, sales were $32.4 million, down from $38.2 million in FY 2022, a decline driven by drops in IDW Entertainment revenue. The company lost $5.4 million, an improvement from the $13.8 million loss in fiscal 2020, but still over $5 million. The forgiveness of two PPP loans helped improve the results.