UPDATED with more earnings details. Fox posted earnings per share of 48 cents for its fiscal second quarter on revenue $3.78 billion, up 5% year on year with affiliate revenue up 7%. Advertising nosed up 1% despite the tough comparison with record political advertising revenues from mid-term elections at the company’s owned and operated television stations, the company said Wednesday.
At cable network Programming advertising revenues took a $16 million or 5% hit from the impact of higher preemptions associated with breaking news coverage at Fox News Media and the absence of Ultimate Fighting Championship content.
Ad revenue in cable networks fell to $337 million from $333 million. Affiliate fees rose to $957 million from $938 million.
Fox share added to their session gains in after hours trading, up 1.77%
“Our results reaffirm that Fox Corporation is delivering on the operational and financial objectives that we established less than twelve months ago. Our brands are exhibiting strength in a competitive marketplace and delivering healthy top-line growth as we continue to invest strategically to expand the reach of our portfolio and further diversify our revenue streams,” said executive chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch.
“Meanwhile, we are taking a balanced approach to capital allocation, including the return of $500 million to shareholders in the form of share repurchases since our last earnings release. Coming off an incredibly successful Super Bowl LIV and with the buildup to the November Presidential Election ahead of us, we look forward to continuing our momentum through calendar 2020.”
Fox became a standalone and much smaller company last year when it split from 21st Century Fox and the film and entertainment assets were acquired by Walt Disney in a massive $71 billion-deal that closed last March. Fox retained news, sports and broadcast assets including Fox News and Fox Business, Fox Entertainment, Fox Sports, the Fox television stations and sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network.
The television division saw advertising revenues of $39 million or 2% as higher sports and entertainment advertising revenues at the FOX Network offset the comparative impact of record political advertising revenues from the mid-term elections at the owned and operated television stations in the prior year quarter.
Affiliate revenues increased $72 million or 18% on increases in programming fees from third-party Fox affiliates and higher average rates per subscriber at the company’s owned and operated television stations.
The television segment widened its operating losses to $214 million from $14 million the year before on higher expenses – including higher programming and production costs at Fox Sports and Fox Entertainment.
In tough ratings times for broadcast and cable, Fox News and the Fox Network were standouts. Fox News was the top-rated basic cable network among total viewers for a fourth year in a row. Fox broadcast ratings were buoyed by the addition to Thursday Night Football and took the top ratings spot for the fall portion of the 2019-20 broadcast season. It was the newly stand-alone network’s first No. 1 finish in the adults 18-49 demographic in 10 years.
Additionally, fueled by the success of The Masked Singer and the top new series Prodigal Son, Fox for the first time ever ranked as the #1 broadcast network in the fall in entertainment programming (excluding sports).
Fox’ current quarter is off to a solid start. The Kansas City Chiefs’ 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in Super Bowl LIV in Miami drew 102 million viewers on Fox, Fox Deportes and Fox, NFL (and Verizon’s digital properties) according to Nielsen numbers special-ordered by Fox Sports. That was up slightly from the comparable cume number last year (100.7 million).
Following the game, the Season 3 premiere of Fox’s flagship series The Masked Singer averaged 23.7 million viewers at 10:40 PM ET on the broadcast network, up 7% from the debut of the CBS lead-out in 2019.