Fox Corp. beat Wall Street analysts’ forecasts for its fiscal first quarter, delivering revenue of $2.72 billion, but COVID-19 continued to take a toll on the broadcast and cable TV company.
Even a record-setting political advertising haul in the quarter ending September 30 couldn’t prevent an overall decline in ad revenue in the main TV unit as the pandemic wiped out key sports broadcasts
The company reported Tuesday that earnings per share came in at $1.18, up from 83 cents in the year-earlier quarter and ahead of analysts’ estimates. The earnings line included a cash payment from Disney from a tax liabilities reimbursement related to the $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets, which closed in 2019.
Advertising across the company slipped 7% to $969 million from $1.04 billion in the year-earlier quarter as some live sports went missing in action due to COVID-19. The ad picture was brighter in cable TV, with the 2020 election propelling Fox News viewership and ad revenue rising 18%. Affiliate revenue climbed 4% as carriage renewals and fee increases countered ongoing subscriber declines.
Fox’s main television unit, which includes the broadcast network and local stations, saw revenue slip to $1.35 billion, down $6 million from a year ago, despite a record political ad haul by the stations.
Affiliate revenue shot up 23% due to increases in fees from third-party Fox affiliates and higher average rates per subscriber, partially offset by net subscriber declines, at the Company’s owned and operated television stations.
Advertising revenue fell 15% to $670 million. The company blamed fewer NFL broadcasts compared to 2019, the postponement of college football games and some scripted programming being hit by COVID-19. The prior-year quarter also included the Emmy Awards.