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21st Century Fox sees growth in cable & television; film segment disappoints

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MUMBAI: Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. (21st Century Fox) reported total quarterly revenues of $6.08 billion in the quarter ended 30 September, 2015, which is a decrease of $406 million, or six per cent from the $6.48 billion of adjusted revenues reported in the prior year.

This decline in adjusted revenues was primarily the result of a seven per cent revenue increase at the Cable Network Programming segment due to higher affiliate and advertising revenues being more than offset by lower revenues generated at the Filmed Entertainment segment due to lower theatrical revenues and the absence of revenues from Shine in the current quarter.

The adverse impact of foreign exchange rates and the absence of revenues from Shine in the current quarter each impacted adjusted revenue growth by approximately $200 million, or six per cent in total.

Quarterly total segment operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) of $1.54 billion decreased $37 million, or two per cent, from the $1.57 billion of adjusted OIBDA reported in the prior year. This decline in adjusted OIBDA reflects double-digit growth at both the company’s Cable Network Programming and Television segments, which was more than offset by reduced contributions from the Filmed Entertainment segment. The adverse impact of foreign exchange rates impacted adjusted OIBDA growth by $109 million, or seven per cent.

The company reported quarterly income from continuing operations attributable to stockholders of $678 million ($0.34 per share), compared with $1.04 billion ($0.48 per share) in the prior year.

Excluding the net income effects of Other, net and gains and other adjustments related to Sky and Endemol Shine Group included in Equity earnings from affiliates, adjusted quarterly earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to stockholders was $0.38 compared with the adjusted year-ago result of $0.39.

Commenting on the results, 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch said, “Our cable networks business generated strong growth in the first fiscal quarter, delivering double-digit earnings gains both domestically and internationally on sustained increases in overall affiliate fees, higher advertising revenues and lower expenses. Our quarterly results also reflect the expected impact of challenging comparisons for our film studio due to the timing of key releases, as well as the poor performance of The Fantastic Four. We are pleased with the recent success of The Martian, and as we look forward, we have an exciting film slate, which includes this weekend’s The Peanuts Movie, the holiday release of Joy, as well as the summer releases of the newest X-Men and Independence Day. Good progress is being made at the Fox Network both from our returning series, including the continued success of Empire, as well as some of our new series. We are focused on creating compelling storytelling and enhancing the customer experience of our digital video brands as we respond to changing consumer preferences.”

CABLE NETWORK PROGRAMMING

Cable Network Programming quarterly segment OIBDA increased 26 per cent to $1.31 billion, driven by a seven per cent revenue increase on strong affiliate revenue growth and higher advertising revenues combined with lower expenses. The two per cent decline in expenses was primarily due to the absence of the prior year broadcast of the India vs. England cricket series at Star Sports. Foreign exchange fluctuations, primarily in Latin America and Europe, adversely impacted segment OIBDA growth by five per cent.

Domestic affiliate revenue increased 11 per cent reflecting strong growth at FS1 and sustained growth across all of the other domestic cable networks. Domestic advertising revenue grew four per cent over the prior year period reflecting solid growth at the sports channels and Fox News. Domestic OIBDA contributions increased 19 per cent over the prior year led by higher contributions from FS1, FX Networks and Fox News.

International affiliate revenue decreased one per cent as 11 per cent local currency growth at Star and the Fox International Channels (FIC) was more than offset by a 12 per cent adverse impact from the strengthened US dollar.

International advertising revenue decreased one per cent as continued local currency growth at FIC and the Star entertainment channels was offset by an 11 per cent adverse impact from the strengthened US dollar as well as the absence of advertising revenues from the prior year broadcast of the India vs. England cricket series at Star Sports. Quarterly OIBDA at the international cable channels increased 53 per cent reflecting strong local currency growth partially offset by the adverse impact of the strengthened US dollar.

TELEVISION

Television generated quarterly segment OIBDA of $196 million, a $22 million or 13 per cent increase over the $174 million reported in the prior year quarter. The increase in segment OIBDA was driven by lower operating costs led by lower programming expenses at the Fox Broadcast Network and TV stations partially offset by higher marketing costs at the Fox Broadcast Network. 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 five per cent decline in advertising revenues primarily reflecting the expected impact of one less week of National Football League broadcasts in the current quarter as compared to the prior year quarter and lower political revenues at the TV stations, as well as lower general entertainment ratings at the Fox Broadcast Network.

FILMED ENTERTAINMENT

Filmed Entertainment generated quarterly segment OIBDA of $149 million, a $309 million decrease from the $458 million reported in the same period a year-ago. 

Quarterly segment revenues decreased $691 million to$1.79 billion,primarily reflecting lower worldwide theatrical revenues, the absence of revenue contributions from Shine, lower syndication revenues reflecting the sale of How I Met Your Mother in the prior year and the adverse impact of the strengthened US dollar. The OIBDA decline over the prior year reflects lower contributions from the film studio attributable to the difficult comparisons to last year’s successful worldwide theatrical performance of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the home entertainment performance of Rio 2 with this year’s worldwide theatrical release of The Fantastic Four in August as well as higher theatrical pre-release costs in the current year primarily related to the successful worldwide theatrical release of The Martian in early October, which has grossed over $430 million in worldwide box office to date. Segment OIBDA comparisons were also adversely impacted by lower contributions from the television production businesses and a negative comparative 11 per cent impact from foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

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