Cable TV

ICC World Cup fees, Simpsons production costs, forex adversely impact Fox Q3-2015 OIBDA

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BENGALURU: Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. reported a 16.8 per cent drop in total revenue to $6840 million in the quarter ended 31 March, 2015 (Q3-2015, current quarter) as comparted to the $8219 million reported for the year ago quarter (quarter ended 31 March, 2014). Excluding net revenues for Q3-2014 from the Direct Broadcast Satellite Television (DBS) businesses, Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland AG, which were sold in November 2014 to Sky plc, adjusted revenues in Q3-2015 increased $84 million or one per cent over the $6.76 billion of adjusted revenue in Q3-2014.

The company’s operating income before depreciation and amortisation fell by $110 million (6.2 per cent) to $1677 million in Q3-2015 from $1787 million in Q3-2014. The company’s Television segment reported a fall of OIBDA to $141 million, which was less than half (49 per cent) of the $288 million reported for Q3-2014. The company attributes the decline in OIBDA to the absence of revenues generated from the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII in the prior year and higher entertainment programming costs at the Fox Broadcasting Network from a higher volume of original series, including Glee and Empire, in the current year quarter as compared to more series repeats in Q3-2014.

While its biggest segment in terms of revenues – Cable Network Programming reported an OIBDA improvement of $57 million (4.8 per cent increase) to $1233 million in Q3-2015. OIBDA increment by the segment would have been even higher, but for the impact of 19 per cent increase in segment expenses lead by the planned investments in new channels, primarily Star Sports and FXX, says the company.

Increased Cable Network Programming segment expenses included increased rights fees related to the broadcast of the ICC Cricket World Cup at Star Sports and increased programming costs at FXX led by The Simpsons. International advertising revenue for the segment increased 24 per cent due to strong local currency growth at Star, driven by the broadcast of the ICC Cricket World Cup, and local currency growth at the FIC channels partially offset by the negative five per cent impact from foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

For the nine month period ended 31 March, 2015 (9M-2015), Fox reported revenue of $22782 million as compared to the $23443 million in 9M-2014. Eliminating the revenue by its DBS business (without accounting for the impact of DBS on corporate eliminations) in the current nine month and 9M-2014 periods, 9M-2015 revenue was $ 20620 million and 9M-2014 revenue was $19006 million, reflecting an 8.5 per cent growth.

Fox OIBDA for 9M-2015 was $5178 million as compared to the $4949 million in 9M-2014. Neglecting DBS OIBDA (without accounting for the impact of DBS on corporate eliminations), the company’s adjusted OIBDA for 9M-2015 was $4944 million, which was 5.8 per cent more than the $4671 million reported for 9M-2014.

Segment Results

Cable Network Programming

This segment reported 12.5 per cent increase in revenue to $3590 million in the current quarter from $3152 million in Q3-2014. Over the nine month period (9M-2015), the segment reported 14.2 per cent increase in revenue to $10205 million from $8296 million in Q3-2015.

The segment’s OIBDA for Q3-2015 has been mentioned above. For 9M-2015, segment OIBDA improved seven per cent to $3430 million from $3205 million in 9M-2014.

Domestic (US) affiliate revenue grew 20 per cent in Q3-2015, reflecting the combination of sustained growth at the regional sports networks, Fox News Channel and FX Networks, increased contribution from Fox Sports 1, and the consolidation of the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (the Yes Network). International affiliate revenue increased 2 per cent driven by strong local currency growth at the Fox International Channels and Star channels which was partially offset by a 13 per cent adverse impact from the strengthened US dollar.

Domestic advertising revenue was flat y-o-y due to lower ratings at FX Networks and National Geographic Channel.

Television

This segment reported a drop of 22 per cent in revenue in Q3-2015 to $1237 million from $1587 million in the corresponding year ago quarter. For 9M-2015, Television segment reported a revenue drop of 8.4 per cent to $3430 million in Q3-2015 from $4265 million in 9M-2014.

Television segment OIBDA in 9M-2015 fell 17.9 per cent ($132 million) to $605 million from $737 million in 9M-2014.

Filmed Entertainment

This segment reported 4.8 per cent improvement in revenue to $2389 million in Q3-2015 as compared to the $2279 million in Q3-2014. For 9M-2015, Filmed Entertainment segment revenue rose 10.8 per cent to $7618 million from $6876 million in 9M-2014.

Segment OIBDA for Q3-2015 improved 7.9 per cent to $382 million from $354 million in Q3-2014.Filmed Entertainment OIBDA improved 15.4 per cent in 9M-2015 to $1176 million from $1019 million in 9M-2014.

The company says that the growth was driven by the successful theatrical releases Taken 3and Kingsman: The Secret Service in the current quarter, which have grossed over $320 million and $400 million in worldwide box office to date, respectively, and theatrical and home entertainment contributions from Penguins of Madagascar. This growth was partially offset by lower contributions from the television production business due to lower SVOD revenues resulting from the prior year sale of several series to Amazon, including 24 and The Americans, and from the adverse impact from the strengthened US dollar.

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