Cable TV

Fox Cable Network Programming business revenue up 14.2% in Q2-2015

BENGALURU: Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (Fox) reported a 1.3 per cent drop in total revenue to $8055 million in the quarter ended 31 December, 2014 (Q2-2015, current quarter) as compared to the $8163 million reported for the year ago quarter (quarter ended 31 December, 2013).

In November 2014, the Company sold its 100 per cent and 57 per cent ownership stakes in Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, respectively, to Sky for approximately $8.8 billion comprised approximately $8.2 billion in cash received, net of $650 million of cash paid to acquire Sky’s 21 per cent interest in NGCI, increasing the Company’s ownership stake in NGCI to 73 per cent.

Excluding the revenue from the satellite businesses that were sold, revenue rose 10 per cent to $7.42 billion in the current quarter over the $6.73 billion of adjusted revenue in the prior year quarter. Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland were a part of Fox’s Direct Broadcast Satellite Television (“DBS”) businesses.

Fox reported OIBDA of $1.72 billion which included $27 million of OIBDA from the DBS businesses. Excluding the OIBDA contributions from the DBS businesses in the current and prior year quarters, adjusted OIBDA grew by $181 million or 12 per cent from $1.51 billion in the prior year to $1.70 billion. This improvement reflects OIBDA growth at the Company’s Cable Network Programming and Television segments says the company. Adjusted OIBDA growth was adversely impacted by approximately $90 million or 6 per cent from foreign exchange rate fluctuations, primarily in Latin America.

Fox chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said, "We delivered solid quarterly results despite continuing currency headwinds and ratings challenges at the Fox broadcast network. Our growth was led by sustained affiliate revenue growth in our channels business. I am also very proud of the creative successes that we have achieved at Twentieth Century Fox, which set a global box office record in 2014 and leads the industry with 24 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture nominations for Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, as well as at our television production studios, which have produced the Emmy and Golden Globe winning Fargo, the critically acclaimed American Horror Story and the promising new series Empire.

“In addition to the operational success achieved this past quarter, we also executed two significant strategic transactions, the combination of our European satellite television holdings, creating Europe’s leading pay television business, and the formation of the Endemol Shine Group joint venture. These transactions further enhance our ability to drive long-term value for all of our shareholders," he added.

Cable Network Programming

Fox Cable Network Programming business (CNP), which is its largest segment in terms of revenue and operating profit, reported a 14.2 per cent jump in revenue in the current quarter to $3384 million from $2964 million in Q2-2014. OIBDA (Operating Income before Depreciation and Amortization) of CNP segment rose 11.7 per cent to $1159 million in Q2-2015 from $1038 million in the year ago quarter.  The OIBDA improvement in the current quarter was driven by a 14 per cent revenue increase on strong affiliate and advertising revenue growth says the company.

The revenue improvement was partially offset by a 16 per cent increase in segment expenses, approximately half of which reflected the combined impact of the planned investments in the new sports channels, Fox Sports 1 and Star Sports, coupled with the consolidation of the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (the YES Network). The expense growth at the new sports channels was led by increased rights fees related to the inaugural broadcast of Major League Baseball Divisional and League Championship playoff games at Fox Sports 1. Segment OIBDA growth was adversely impacted by over $65 million or approximately 6 per cent from foreign exchange rate fluctuations, primarily in Latin America, as mentioned above.

Television business

Fox Television business reported almost flat revenue (drop of 0.4 per cent) at $1623 million in the current quarter versus the $1630 million in the year ago quarter. Television business OIBDA increased 33 per cent in Q2-2015 to $290 million from $218 million in Q2-2014.

The increase in segment OIBDA was driven by lower programming costs at the FOX Broadcast Network from the cancellation of ‘X-Factor’, the absence of’ Glee’ in the current year quarter and the shift of the Major League Baseball League Championship Series to Fox Sports 1, all of which were partially offset by higher rights fees related to the new National Football League contract. Quarterly segment revenues were consistent with those from the corresponding period in the prior year as strong retransmission consent revenue growth was counterbalanced by a 3 per cent decline in advertising revenues. This advertising revenue decline reflects the impact from lower general entertainment ratings at the Fox Broadcast Network, which was partially offset by increased political advertising revenue growth at the local television stations.

Filmed Entertainment business

Filmed Entertainment (FE) business reported revenue growth of 11.1 per cent in Q2-2015 to $2753 million from $2477 million in the corresponding year ago quarter. This growth was led by the performance of several successful worldwide theatrical releases including ‘The Maze Runner’ and ‘Gone Girl’, which have grossed over $340 million and over $365 million in worldwide box office to date, respectively. As a result of these and other successful releases in the year the studio has broken the all-time global box-office industry record, having generated more than $5.5 billion in 2014 claims the company.

FE reported flat OIBDA (down 0.3 per cent) of $336 million versus $337 million in the corresponding year ago quarter. This was due to increased contributions from the film studio, led by a strong theatrical slate was offset by lower contributions from the television production businesses driven by fewer series deliveries, including the absence of ‘How I Met Your Mother’, ‘White Collar’ and ‘Glee’.

Direct Broadcast Satellite Television (DBS)

DBS segment revenue in Q3-2015 was down 56.3 per cent to $663 million from $1517 million in Q2-2014. DBS reported OIBDA of $27 million in Q2-2015 versus $30 million last year.

Consolidated revenues by component

Affiliate Fees grew 17 per cent to $2480 million in Q2-2015 from $2119 million in Q2-2014. Subscription was down 55.7 per cent due to the sale of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland in Q2-2015 to $605 million from $1366 million in the year ago quarter. Advertising revenue was almost flat down 0.6 per cent) to $2370 million in Q2-2015 as compared to $2385 million in Q2-2014.

Revenue from Content was up 15.4 per cent to $2487 million in the current quarter from $2156 million in Q2-2014. Revenue from ‘Other’ component was down 17.5 per cent to $113 million from $137 million in Q2-2014.

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