21st Century Fox revenue falls as Rupert Murdoch deals with falling TV viewership

Joe Hall
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21st Century Fox's results beat analysts' estimates. (Source: Getty)

The figures

21st Century Fox's share price jumped in after-hours trading after the media conglomerate reported third-quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations - although revenues missed targets.

Revenues fell from $8.2bn to $6.84bn (£4.49bn). However, excluding turnover from the Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia businesses which have since been sold to Sky, revenues actually increased one per cent.

The increase was primarily driven by higher revenues at its Cable Network Programming but offset by the fact it did not broadcast the Super Bowl this year and enjoy the huge audience that comes with it.

However, while television suffered a dip, the company's movie division enjoyed an eight per cent increase in operating income before depreciation and amortization to $382m thanks to the successful performance of films such as Taken 3 and Kingsman: Secret Service.

Rupert Murdoch's New York-based media company reported income from continuing operations of $990m and earnings per share of 42 cents - beating expectations of 39 cents per share.

Operating profits beat expectations yet still fell 6.1 per cent to $1.68bn from $1.79bn a year earlier while net income also dropped from $1.05bn to $975bn.

Why it's interesting

It wasn't just the absence of a torrid Super Bowl that spelt a torrid quarter for 21st Century Fox. Although ratings from new shows such as Empire and Gotham were strong, overall ratings were down around 35 per cent in the quarter as the company struggled with higher programming costs at the Fox Broadcasting Network and volume of original series.

What Fox said

In the fiscal third quarter, we delivered double-digit affiliate revenue growth at our cable networks and continued our strong operating performance at our film studio.

Our results reflect the underlying strength of our business even as it was impacted by an unfavourable comparison for our broadcast television businesses without the Super Bowl and ongoing currency headwinds. In addition, we're seeing real momentum from our continued investments in our global channels business, most notable with the ICC Cricket World Cup broadcasts on STAR Sports in India which broke both linear digital viewing records.

- Chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch

In short

The power of the Super Bowl. Even Rupert Murdoch's all-powerful media empire can suffer a hiccup when it misses out on an audience hungry for a last-gasp touchdown.

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