Discovery lost viewers in the fourth quarter, saw ratings decline and increased the amount of money it invested in new businesses. And yet, fourth-quarter profit rose as the company saw revenue from advertising and distribution rise in both the U.S. and overseas.
The owner of cable networks like Discovery Channel, Food Network and HGTV said net income in the quarter rose to $476 million, or 67 cents per share, compared with $269 million, or 38 cents per share, in the year-earlier period, despite a 9% increase in operating expenses. Revenue rose 4% to $2.87 billion, compared with nearly $2.81 billion in the previous quarter.
Discovery said ad revenue rose 1% and distribution revenue rose 5% at its U.S. operations, driven by pricing increases and new support of its digital programming, even as the company’s overall portfolio of networks saw a 5% dip in subscribers. Overseas, ad revenue rose 5% and distribution revenue increased 10%.
Discovery, which has been working to make its content available to mobile devices and via streaming video, said operating expenses during the quarter increased 9% to $827 million, driven by an increase in spending for content and new marketing and personnel expenses related to new direct-to-consumer businesses.
“Our differentiated local content strategy and global scale, coupled with our unique free cash flow conversion profile, provide distinct financial flexibility that allows us to adapt to changing media consumption habits,” said David Zaslav, Discovery’s chairman and CEO, in a prepared statement.
More to come…