UPDATE: COO Chase Carey says not to worry about speculation that he’s preparing to leave. “Rupert and I have an understanding and a new agreement,” he told analysts in a conference call. “We just haven’t gotten it on paper yet.”
PREVIOUS, 1:08 PM: Shares are up about 4% in postmarket trading after Fox reported that the Super Bowl helped to score an additional $338M at the TV business — enabling the company to beat expectations for the first three months of 2013, an otherwise mixed quarter. Rupert Murdoch‘s entertainment operation generated $1.07B in net income, -63% vs the period last year, on revenues of $8.22B, +11.8%. The top line exceeded forecasts for $7.99B. Adjusted earnings at 47 cents a share also beat predictions for 35 cents.
The dominant Cable Network Programming unit’s revenues increased 11.5% to $3.15B — slightly less than analysts anticipated — with cash flow +10% to $1.18B. The business benefited from an 11% increase in the cash it collects from cable and satellite companies, and an 8% increase in domestic ads. But it also had higher expenses to launch Fox Sports 1 and FXX. At the Fox broadcast operation revenues with the Super Bowl were +27.1% to $1.59B, higher than the consensus forecast, with cash flow +31.5% to $288M. Ad sales were up 30%, although Fox says that it also suffered from “lower general entertainment ratings, led by declines at American Idol.” Filmed Entertainment suffered from comparisons with early 2013 which included A Good Day To Die Hard, Parental Guidance, and Life Of Pi and as it absorbed costs, but didn’t collect revenues, for Rio 2 which was released in April. Revenues fell 2.9% to $2.28B although cash flow increased 6% to $354M from sales of streaming rights to Amazon of TV shows including The Americans and 24.
“The sizeable audiences of our live television events, led by the most watched Super Bowl in history, underscore the value of our investments in live sports programming, both in the U.S. and internationally,” Murdoch says.