Fox hopes to “create some precedents” with its digital plans for The Simpsons later this year when the long-running animated series will become “the face” of FXX, COO Chase Carey told analysts this morning in a call to discuss fiscal Q2 earnings. No specifics yet — but the exec says that it’s one of the reasons why Fox decided to keep the re-run rights instead of licensing to someone else. “There are times when our distribution businesses have a unique ability to take advantage of a set of rights. And The Simpsons is a perfect example.” The show will “help brand…and help drive” FXX, Carey adds, but Fox isn’t “turning it into The Simpsons Channel.” Would a similar strategy also make sense for, say, FX’s The Americans? Not necessarily, Carey says. “When you get to a one-size-fits-all [strategy], I don’t think that’s the way to go….What we’re not going to do is undersell the content” when others “see values that exceed what it’s worth to us.”
Carey was more subdued than usual on today’s call as the company acknowledged its disappointment with the performances of recent films including The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and TV shows including X Factor and American Idol. Fox CFO John Nallen said that they contributed to the decision to cut the company’s cash flow (or EBITDA) forecast for the fiscal year ending in June to “mid-to-high single digit” growth from his previous guidance for “high single to low double-digit” growth. Carey says that while he’s “not minimizing our disappointment in the adjusted guidance,” he has “never been more excited” about the long term prospects, particularly from its investments in sports and other cable channels. He doesn’t fear that it will be harder to negotiate rate increases if Charter Communications buys Time Warner Cable. “We honestly don’t see material consequence” from consolidation — and it could help it it helps distributors to offer more compelling video services. Carey also says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that broadcasters will prevail at the U.S. Supreme Court with their suit claiming that Aereo infringes on their copyrights. The streaming service says that the plaintiffs’ case, if upheld, could endanger cloud computing. Carey says, though, that it’s just about what he perceives as theft when Aereo streams broadcasters’ free, over-the-air signals. “At the end of the day our business needs to have a dual revenue model. Hopefully we’ll have those rights reaffirmed in this process.”
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