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Q2-2016: 21st Century Fox reports flat revenue, operating income up 2.1%

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BENGALURU: Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc (Fox) reported almost flat YoY (down 0.7 per cent) adjusted revenue of $7,375 million in the quarter ended 31 December, 2015 (Q2-2016, current quarter) as compared to the $7,424 million in the corresponding prior year quarter.

Adjusted Operating Income (OIBDA) in the current quarter increased 2.1 per cent YoY at $1,730 million as compared to $1,695 million. The company says that the decline compared to last year’s adjusted revenues reflects higher affiliate and advertising revenues at the Cable Network Programming and Television segments that were more than offset by lower revenues generated at the Filmed Entertainment segment due to lower home entertainment revenues and the absence of revenues from Shine in the current quarter. The adverse impact of foreign exchange rates in the current quarter impacted adjusted revenue growth by $207 million, or three per cent in total.

According to Fox, the YoY increase in adjusted OIBDA compared to last year’s adjusted OIBDA primarily reflects eight per cent growth at the company’s Cable Network Programming segment partially offset by reduced contributions from the Filmed Entertainment segment. The adverse impact of foreign exchange rates impacted adjusted OIBDA growth by $109 million, or six per cent.

Commenting on the results, Fox executive chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch said, “During the quarter, our cable business continued to drive our growth, delivering sustained increases in domestic affiliate fees and gains in advertising revenue, underscoring the power of our global brands and distinctive programming. In addition, we are encouraged by progress at the Fox Broadcast Network, which delivered significant advertising gains from both our sports and entertainment programming. At our television production business, we deliberately invested in a higher number of new original series this quarter in support of the network’s new primetime schedule and in creating valuable long-term assets for the company. We continued with our top priority of delivering standout storytelling and are proud of our industry-leading Academy Award nominations as well as Golden Globe wins across both our film and television businesses.”

Cable Network Programming

Cable Network Programming quarterly segment OIBDA increased eight per cent to $1.25 billion, driven by a nine per cent revenue increase on strong affiliate revenue growth and higher advertising revenues partially offset by a 10 per cent increase in expenses. The increase in expenses was primarily due to the impact from the consolidation of newly acquired National Geographic Partners businesses as well as higher planned sports programming costs led by soccer, Major League Baseball and college football rights. Foreign exchange fluctuations, primarily in Latin America and Europe, adversely impacted segment OIBDA growth by five per cent.

Domestic affiliate revenue increased 10 per cent reflecting continued strong growth at FS1 and Fox News and sustained growth across all of the other domestic cable networks. Domestic advertising revenue grew three per cent over the prior year period reflecting solid growth at Fox News and the Regional Sports Networks, led by higher ratings for National Basketball Association games, partially offset by lower advertising revenues at FX Networks from lower ratings. Domestic OIBDA contributions increased seven per cent over the prior year led by higher contributions from Fox News and the domestic sports channels.

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. Despite an 11 per cent adverse impact from the strengthened US dollar, international advertising revenue increased 15 per cent as the Star and FIC channels generated strong local currency growth. Quarterly OIBDA at the international cable channels increased eight 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 $279 million, an $11 million decrease over the $290 million reported in the prior year quarter. Quarterly segment revenues were six per cent higher than the corresponding period in the prior year due to strong retransmission consent revenue growth and a four per cent increase in advertising revenues, primarily reflecting low double digit

advertising growth at the Fox Broadcast Network, which benefited from higher national pricing and increased audiences for both the National Football League and the new primetime schedule led by Empire, partially offset by lower cyclical political advertising revenues at the TV stations. The decrease in segment OIBDA was driven by higher contractual sports programming costs at the Fox Broadcast Network that more than offset the higher revenues.

Filmed Entertainment

Filmed Entertainment generated quarterly segment OIBDA of $302 million, a $34 million decrease from the $336 million reported in the same period a year-ago. Quarterly segment revenues decreased $392 million to $2.36 billion, primarily due to lower worldwide home entertainment revenues reflecting difficult comparisons to last year’s strong performance of X-Men: Days of Future Past and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with this year’s home entertainment performance of Spy, the absence of revenue contributions from Shine and the adverse impact of the strengthened US dollar partially offset by higher television production network revenues. The OIBDA decline over the prior year primarily reflects lower contributions from the television production business due to higher deficits related to more new series delivered during the quarter and the absence of contributions from successful series that concluded in the prior year, including Sons of Anarchy, partially offset by higher film studio contributions driven by the worldwide theatrical performance of The Martian, which has grossed over $600 million in worldwide box office to date. Segment OIBDA comparisons were also adversely impacted by a 14 per cent negative impact from foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

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