Fourth-quarter revenues at 21st Century Fox totaled $6.75 billion, a 2-percent gain on the prior-year period, thanks in part to higher affiliate and advertising revenue at the cable network programming segment.
The growth in the cable network programming segment was partially offset by lower content revenues at the filmed entertainment segment and lower advertising revenues at the television segment. Quarterly income from continuing operations before income tax (expense) benefit of $815 million increased $269 million from the $546 million reported in the prior-year quarter. Quarterly total segment OIBDA of $1.45 billion was consistent with Q4 2016. Higher contributions from the company’s cable network programming segment were offset by lower contributions from the filmed entertainment and television segments.
Cable network programming quarterly segment OIBDA increased 19 percent to $1.44 billion, led by 10 percent higher revenue from strong affiliate, content and advertising growth, partially offset by a 7 percent increase in expenses (primarily due to the broadcast of the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy). Domestic affiliate revenue increased 10 percent, reflecting higher pricing across all of the domestic cable brands, led by Fox News, RSNs, FX Networks and FS1. Domestic advertising revenue increased 6 percent, as the impact of higher ratings at Fox News and increases at National Geographic were partially offset by the absence of the prior-year quarter broadcast of the Copa America soccer tournament at FS1. International affiliate revenue increased 9 percent driven by higher rates and subscribers. International advertising revenue increased 9 percent from high double-digit advertising increases at STAR, led by the current-quarter broadcast of the ICC Champions Trophy. Quarterly OIBDA at the international cable channels increased 6 percent from the prior-year quarter, primarily reflecting higher contributions from FNG International partially offset by lower contributions from STAR.
Television reported quarterly segment OIBDA of $137 million, down by $7 million compared to the prior-year quarter. Quarterly segment revenues declined as lower national and local advertising revenues from lower general entertainment ratings were partially offset by higher retransmission consent revenues. Total segment expenses were 3 percent lower than the prior-year quarter due to lower entertainment programming costs.
Filmed entertainment delivered a quarterly segment OIBDA loss of $22 million, a $186 million decrease from the same period a year ago. This was mainly due to lower revenues at both the film and television studios. Quarterly segment revenues decreased $235 million to $1.8 billion, with lower home entertainment revenues due to the strong performance of Deadpool in the prior-year quarter and lower pay- and free-television revenues due to the timing of feature film availabilities and fewer deliveries of returning television series.
Executive Chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch said: “We delivered strong financial and operational momentum in fiscal 2017 driven by an acceleration in affiliate revenue growth, which fueled fourth-quarter cable segment OIBDA growth of 19 percent. The investment we have made in our video brands, and in programming that truly differentiates, is proving to be the right strategy. It is driving the value of our brand portfolio across both established and emerging distribution platforms and reflects our deep commitment to creative excellence across all of our entertainment production businesses. In addition, the outstanding performance of our live news and sports programming drove advertising growth for the year and continues to set our business apart. What we achieved in 2017 sets us up well for this year and beyond.”