Fox Corporation said profit rose in its fourth fiscal quarter as advertisers ramped up spending as conditions of the coronavirus pandemic eased and it secured new revenue from distributors. But the company’s overall cash flow was crimped by fees for a wider range of sports events as well as investment in Tubi, its ad-supported streaming video outlet, and digital outlets at Fox News Media.
The owner of Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and Fox Sports said net income came to $253 million, or 43 cents per share, compared with $122 million, or 20 cents per share in the year-earlier period. Revenue increased 20% to $2.89 billion, up from $2.42 billion in the year-earlier period.
“We look forward to the year ahead, anticipating the return of normalized sports and entertainment calendars and the start of the midterm election cycle,” said Lachlan Murdoch, the company’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “Fox’s core live event programming, coupled with its growing digital businesses, will continue to deliver audiences on an unmatched scale for our advertising and distribution partners.”
The company saw cable revenue rise 10% to $1.4 billion, thanks to a 6% increase in affiliate revenue and a 17% increase in advertising revenue. Fox said digital ad inventory at Fox News and more live events and studio shows at Fox Sports helped it drive more interest from advertisers.
Meanwhile, revenue at its traditional TV operations rose 30% to $1.45 billion, driven by a 51% increase in ad sales at Fox’s TV stations and healthy ad pricing at Fox Entertainment. Affiliate fees rose 16% to $88 million.
During a call with investors, Fox’s Murdoch emphasized the company’s interest in ad-supported venues and noted Fox was far more interested in getting viewers to increase the number of hours they spent with its properties rather than the acquisition of subscribers. Murdoch indicated the company would introduce new content for its ad-supported Tubi service, but not of the ambitious scope seen in productions by other streaming outlets. He told investors costs would be modest, but would generate good returns over time.