Fox doesn’t believe it has to look for a merger partner to help it keep up with AT&T and Time Warner, CEO James Murdoch told analysts today in a quarterly conference call that only lasted a half hour — not the usual full hour.
“Scale for scale’s sake is not something that we think should be pursued,” he said. “There’s no heightened appetite for any inorganic activity apropos the recent activity [meaning: AT&T-Time Warner]. … Our business is growing really well.”
To that end, he noted that multiplatform viewing on Hulu and Fox’s digital apps now account for 20% of the company’s primetime viewing.
He shied from commenting specifically about how many of his channels will be part of AT&T’s upcoming DirecTV Now service.
“We certainly anticipate all of our major brands to be part of these” streaming services, Murdoch said. “It’s why we’ve been investing in these brands.”
Much of the growth in pay TV has come from the company’s emerging channels including FS2 and Fox Business. Still, Murdoch said he still believes the company can negotiate higher rates for older channels including Fox News.
“There’s absolutely growth there in affiliate fees,” he says. “The channel is as strong as it’s ever been.”
Co-Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch referred to the growing concern about the weak ratings for NFL games across all the networks that carry them.
“While there’s a lot of noise about declining NFL ratings, Fox’s same-day viewership on Sunday is holding up well, and is within 4 percentage points of last year.”