Media conglomerate 21st Century Fox saw a noticeable decline in net income in its fiscal second quarter as its broadcast-television and filmed-entertainment units grew more slowly, owing to lower ratings at the company’s Fox network and a dip in performance from holiday films.
Executives also cited investments being made in new networks. In recent months, 21st Century Fox has launched outlets including FXX and Fox Sports 1.
The company, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, said revenue grew 15% to $8.16 billion during the period. compared with $7.11 billion in the year-earlier period. The results were boosted by the consolidation of revenue at some of its overseas satellite businesses as well as revenue growth at its cable-networks unit.
21st Century Fox said net income came to $1.21 billion, or 53 cents a share in the period, compared with $2.38 billion, or $1.01 a share, a year earlier. Excluding certain one-time items, such as a share buyback program at the company’s BSkyB, earnings per share came to 33 cents.
During a conference call Thursday, executives at the company said they expected performance to be affected by the performance of films released in December, including “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” as well as lower-than-anticipated ratings at its Fox network, led by dips in audience viewing for “The X-Factor” and curbed audience for “American Idol,” which would lead to lower advertising revenues at the network. Chase Carey, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said dips in audience at Fox News Channel had followed in comparison with a previous quarter that took place around a Presidential election.
Carey said the challenges were “short term.” Among future highlights were new projects from the Fox broadcast network, as well as an effort to launch original content year-round and more quickly.
The company said its cable networks proved reliable performers. Operating profit in the segment grew 2% while revenue rose 14%. U.S. advertising revenue grew 7% in the quarter owing to growth at the FX Networks and national and regional sports networks.
At its television operations, operating income before depreciation and amortization fell to $218 million, compared with $245 million. Revenue increased 6%, owing to growth in retransmission revenues. Television reported quarterly segment OIBDA of $218 million, as compared to $245 million in the prior year quarter. Advertising revenue in the period grew slightly due to an increase in sports advertising, but was offset by lower political advertising at the company’s TV stations and the impact from lower ratings from Fox’s entertainment programming, The company said ratings declines were led by “The X-Factor.”
At the company’s filmed-entertainment operations, operating income came to $337 million. compared with $424 million in the year-earlier period. The company cited difficult comparisons with the year-earlier period, which included “Taken 2” in theaters and “Ice Age: Continental Shift” available for home entertainment. The recent quarter included higher theatrical release costs for such movies as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “Walking with Dinosaurs” in late December.