Third-quarter revenues at 21st Century Fox were down by 2 percent to $7.42 billion from the same period last year, delivering a net profit of $858 million.
The company saw strong gains at its cable networks, with revenues up to $4.4 billion on higher affiliate, syndication and advertising revenues. Affiliate revenues in the U.S. were up 10 percent and ad revenues up 3 percent. The international networks, meanwhile, pulled in affiliate revenues that were 14 percent higher than the year-ago period, while ad revenues dipped slightly. Cable network operating income rose to $1.7 billion.
Television revenues fell to $1.1 billion, largely due to a lack of ad revenues from the Super Bowl, which FOX carried last year, plus lower ratings from the NFL this season. Operating income for the segment dropped from $190 million to $78 million.
Filmed entertainment revenues were stable at $2.2 billion, and operating income was 23-percent lower at $286 million as a result of lower contributions from the television production business due to higher deficits and more new drama series deliveries in the quarter. In addition, the same period last year was boosted by the SVOD licensing of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. While the studio’s theatrical business fared well, it reported lower worldwide syndication revenues at the television production business.
Executive Chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch commented, “We continue to make operational and financial progress against near-term objectives as we also work to close our strategic transactions. Our cable segment delivered its highest earnings ever in our fiscal third quarter, propelled by sustained double-digit gains in domestic affiliate revenues. Creatively, we are firing on all cylinders. Our stand-out programming continues to drive up the value of our video brands to distributors, as well as build our direct relationship with consumers, as we’re demonstrating with the successful inaugural season of Indian Premier League on STAR Sports and Hotstar platforms. Our film studio delivered box-office and awards momentum that we expect to continue with the upcoming release of Deadpool 2.”