Star India impacts 21st Century Fox Q1-17 numbers

BENGALURU: Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (21st Century Fox) reported 7.1 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in adjusted total revenue (revenue) for its first quarter ended 30 September 2016 (Q1-17, current quarter). Twenty-First Century Fox reported consolidated revenue of $6,506 million in the current quarter as compared to $6,077 million in the corresponding year-ago quarter.

This revenue growth reflects increase in affiliate fee revenue which was primarily attributable to higher average rates per subscriber across most channels, and the increase in content revenue was led by higher subscription video-on demand (SVOD) revenue from television productions says the company.

The company’s Operating Income before Depreciation and Amortization (OIBDA) increased 16.7 percent in Q1-17 to $1,791 million from $1,535 million in Q1-16.

Twenty-First Century has three segments – Cable Network Programming, Television and Filmed Entertainment.

Cable Network Programming

Cable Network Programming revenue in the current quarter increased 10 percent y-o-y in the current quarter to $3,810 million from $3,464 million. The segment’s Operating Income before Depreciation and Amortization (OIBDA)increased six per cent y-o-y to $1,384 million from $1,306 million.

Cable Network Programming has three sub-segments – Affiliate Fees; Advertising; ‘Content and Other’.

Star India’s contribution

Twenty-First Century Fox says that International affiliate fee revenue from its segment Cable Network Programming increased as a result of 16 per cent local currency growth, led by additional subscribers, higher rates and new channels in Latin America and Europe at Fox Networks Group International (FNGI) and increases at Star India, partially offset by the adverse impact of the strengthening of the U.S. dollar against local currencies. For Q1-17, international advertising revenue increased as a result of 11 per cent local currency growth, led by the broadcast of the Rio Olympics in fiscal 2017 at FNGI and Star India and higher volume and pricing at Star India’s general entertainment and sports channels, partially offset by the adverse impact of the strengthening of the US dollar against local currencies.

“Star India’s advertising revenues returned to double digit year-over-year growth on a constant currency basis and we continue to see exceptional growth of our mobile video platform Hotstar,” said James Murdoch during a earnings call on the latest earnings. “Between June and October, average watch time doubled on the platform and minutes viewed is currently more than double, all the mainstream competitors combined and more than 10X the watch time of Netflix, which launched in India earlier this year.”

The increase in international content and other revenues Q1-17, as compared to the corresponding period of fiscal 2016, was primarily due to higher network and syndication sales in Latin America and Europe at FNGI.

International channels OIBDA decreased seven per cent, as compared to the corresponding period of fiscal 2016, primarily due to the local currency revenue increases noted above being more than offset by higher expenses an the adverse impact of the strengthening of the US dollar against local currencies. Operating expenses increased by approximately $110 million, for Q1-17, as compared Q1-16, primarily due to the broadcast of the Rio Olympics in fiscal 2017 and increased sports programming rights amortization, including soccer rights at FNGI and cricket rights at Star India.

James Murdoch responded to a question during the investor call about the IPL rights and other sports properties that the Star Network is developing in India by saying: “..on the IPL, I think it is well known that there’s a - it’s well known that it’s very unclear when those rights will come to market. There has been a delay in that process. But I would say, look with respect to the Indian business we obviously look at different rights packages as they come up, we have really grown the breadth of that business in terms of sports with BCCI domestic cricket contract as well as the growth in Kabbadi and the Indian Super League, so it is really a broad business there and new rights come up where we always will have a look at. There is nothing at this point I can see in the outcome of those things that would deter it from the medium term target that we have laid out for profit growth at Star which were pacing towards pretty well, so we feel confident about that.”

Domestic (US) Channels

For Q1-17, Cable Network Programming’s domestic affiliate fee revenue increased primarily due to higher average rates per subscriber led by the

Regional Sports Networks (RSNs), FX Networks and Fox News Channel (Fox News) partially offset by lower average subscribers.

For Q1-7, domestic advertising revenue increased primarily due to higher pricing and ratings at Fox News. The increase in domestic content and other revenues for the Q1-17, as compared to the corresponding period of fiscal

2016, was primarily due to the effect of the acquisition of the NGS Media Business.

Domestic channels OIBDA increased nine per cent, as compared to the corresponding period of fiscal 2016, primarily due to the revenue increases noted above partially offset by higher expenses which were due to primarily due to the acquisition of the NGS Media Business and higher programming costs, including increased Major League Baseball(MLB) rights amortization at the RSNs and higher entertainment programming amortization at FX Networks.


For Q1-17, revenues at the Television segment remained relatively constant, as compared Q1-16 (down one per cent y-o-y in Q1-17 at $1,038 million from $1,049 million), primarily due to higher affiliate fee and content revenues offset by lower advertising revenue. Affiliate fee revenue increased 18 per cent in Q1-17, as compared

Q1-16, as a result of higher retransmission consent rates. Content and other revenues increased 55 per cent for Q1-17 as compared to Q1-16, primarily as a result of higher SVOD revenue at FOX.

Television Advertising revenue decreased 11 per cent in Q1-7, as compared to Q1-16, primarily due to lower local advertising resulting from the broadcast of the Rio Olympics on a competitor network, the absence of the Emmy Awards and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Women’s World Cup events and lower general entertainment ratings at FOX. Partially offsetting these decreases was higher political advertising revenue primarily related to the 2016 presidential election in the US.

Television segment OIBDA in Q1-7 decreased 2.7 per cent y-o-y to $191 million from $196 million.

Filmed Entertainment

Filmed Entertainment revenues increased 6.8 per cent in Q1-17 as compared to Q2-16 to $1,907 million from $1,785 million primarily due to higher SVOD revenue from television productions, led by the licensing of Homeland to Hulu, and higher worldwide theatrical revenue partially offset by lower home entertainment revenue from motion picture productions. For Q1-17, revenues included the worldwide theatrical performance of Ice Age: Collision Course and Independence Day: Resurgence, *as compared to Q1-16, which included the worldwide theatrical releases of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and Fantastic Four and the home entertainment release of *Home*.

In Q1-15, segment OIBDA at the Filmed Entertainment segment more than double (increased $162 million by 2.09 times) to $311 million from $149 million due to the revenue increases noted above and lower expenses of $40 million, or two per cent, as compared to Q1-16. Operating expenses decreased by approximately $20 million for the three months ended September 30, 2016, as compared to the corresponding period of fiscal 2016, primarily due to lower marketing costs due to the mix of theatrical and home entertainment releases in the current quarter compared to the prior year partially offset by higher production amortization and participation costs related to television productions.

Company speak

Commenting on the results, Century Fox executive chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch said, “We delivered a strong quarter, growing our earnings by double digits on solid revenue gains. Whether it was Fox News rating # in basic cable, the 27 primetime Emmy Awards between FX Networks and FOX Broadcasting, producing three of the top five

scripted shows on television, or our robust international growth, we demonstrated strong operational momentum across our global businesses.”

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