Television

De-mon contributes to lower international ad revenue at 21st Century Fox

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BENGALURU: Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox (TFC-Fox) reported five per cent decline in net income attributable to TFC-Fox stockholders (net income) for the quarter ending 31 March 2017 (Q3-17, current quarter) as compared to the corresponding periods of the previous fiscal.  The company’s Q3-17 net income was $799 million as compared to $841 million in Q3-16. As reported by us earlier, (21st Century Fox outlook on Star bullish despite $30 million DeMon Hit), TFC-Fox CFO John Nallen, in conversation with analysts had admitted that Star too ‘got affected’ from last quarter to first quarter of 2017 to the extent of $30 million.

Demonetisation in India partially contributed to the drop in revenue in Q3-17 going by some statements in TFC-Fox’s earnings release for Q3-17. The company’s press release says: “International advertising revenue decreased 18 percent from lower advertising revenues at Star India due to the absence of the prior year broadcast of the ICC Cricket World Twenty20 matches and the effect of the Indian government demonetization initiatives on the general advertising market. Quarterly OIBDA at the international cable channels increased 44 percent from the prior year quarter primarily reflecting lower sports programming costs at STAR India and higher contributions from Fox Networks Group International (FNGI).”

Advertising revenue in the current quarter increased 15.5 percent to $2,203 million from $1,907 million. Affiliate Fees in Q3-17 increased 7.5 percent to $3,160 million from $2,939 million in the corresponding year ago quarter. Content revenue in Q3-17 declined 9.2 percent to $2,078 million from $2,288 million in Q3-16. Other revenue increased 30.9 percent to $123 million from $94 million.

Overall TFC-Fox revenue in the current quarter increased 4.6 percent to $7,564 million as compared to $7,228 million in Q3-16. Total operating income before depreciation and amortisation (OIBDA) for the quarter increased 3 percent to $1,938 million from $1,881 million in the year ago quarter.

Commenting on the results, TFC-Fox executive chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch said, “We delivered a quarter marked by operational momentum and strong domestic affiliate fee growth. We continue to demonstrate our ability to capture opportunities to grow distribution of our domestic portfolio of video brands, whether through established MVPD partners or new digital entrants such as Hulu’s recently launched live television service. We made progress in the quarter against our key strategic priorities, exemplified by our creative successes across screens, from theatrical releases Logan and Hidden Figures to new FX debuts of Legion, Feud and Taboo. Our proposed combination with Sky, which was recently approved unconditionally by the European Commission, will advance another of our strategic priorities, driving innovation for customers. We remain confident the proposed transaction will be approved by the end of the calendar year following a thorough review process.”

Three segments contribute to TFC-Fox numbers: Cable Network Programming (Star India is a part of Cable Network Programming); Television; and Filmed Entertainment.

Cable Network Programming

Cable Network Programming quarterly segment OIBDA increased 5 percent to $1.45 billion and revenue increased 2 percent to $4.02 billion.

Expenses were consistent with the prior year quarter as higher entertainment programming and marketing costs at FX Networks and National Geographic Channels, higher National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) rights costs at FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and higher National Basketball Association (NBA) rights costs at the regional sports networks (RSNs) wereoffset by lower sports rights costs at STAR India due to the absence of the prior year broadcast of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Twenty20 matches.

Domestic affiliate revenue increased 8 percent reflecting continued contractual rate increases led by Fox News, FS1, the RSNs and FX Networks. Domestic advertising revenue was flat over the prior year period as the impact of higher ratings at Fox News and FS1 was offset by lower revenues at the National Geographic Partners businesses. Domestic OIBDA contributions were equal to the prior year quarter as higher contributions from Fox News were offset by lower contributions from FX Networks and National Geographic Channels.

International affiliate revenue increased 5 percent driven by local currency growth of 7 percent partially offset by negative currency impacts from the strengthened U.S. dollar. International advertising revenue decreased 18 percent from lower advertising revenues at Star India due to the absence of the prior year broadcast of the ICC Cricket World Twenty20 matches and the effect of the Indian government demonetization initiatives on the general advertising market. Quarterly OIBDA at the international cable channels increased 44 percent from the prior year quarter primarily reflecting lower sports programming costs at STAR India and higher contributions from Fox Networks Group International.

TELEVISION

Television reported quarterly segment OIBDA of $190 million, an increase of 52 percent as compared to the prior year quarter driven by 30 percent revenue growth reflecting increased advertising revenue and continued growth of retransmission consent revenues.

Quarterly advertising revenues grew 39 percent from the corresponding period of the prior year driven by the broadcast of Super Bowl LI and the inclusion of one additional National Football League divisional playoff game, partially offset by the impact from lower general entertainment ratings, led by the absence of American Idol, which concluded its final season in the prior year. The segment results also included higher sports programming costs associated with the broadcast of Super Bowl LI and the additional National Football League divisional playoff game.

FILMED ENTERTAINMENT

Filmed Entertainment generated quarterly segment OIBDA of $373 million, a $97 million decrease from the $470 million reported in the same period a year-ago. The OIBDA decrease in the current quarter was driven primarily by lower film studio contributions reflecting difficult comparisons to last year’s strong worldwide theatrical performance of Deadpool and the home entertainment performance of The Martian, partially offset by higher television production contributions from higher subscription video-on demand revenues led by the licensing of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and higher network revenue.

Quarterly segment revenues decreased $65 million to $2.26 billion, primarily reflecting lower worldwide theatrical and home entertainment revenues partially offset by higher television production revenues. Quarterly results also included the successful theatrical performances of both Logan and Hidden Figures, which have grossed approximately $600 million and $230 million in worldwide box office, respectively.

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