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Fox Corp. Sees Q3 Profit Rise Despite Revenue Dips After Super Bowl, 2020 News Cycle

Lachlan Murdoch
Efren S. Landaos/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Fox Corporation said profit in its third fiscal quarter rose owing to increases in value of some of its outside investments, even as overall revenue fell due to comparisons with 2020, which contained a Super Bowl and a red-hot news cycle focused on the Trump administration and the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Revenue fell to $3.22 billion, compared with $3.44 billion in the year-earlier period. Fox cited the absence of ad revenue from the Super Bowl broadcast as well as “a slower news cycle in the current year quarter.” The company said revenue rose slightly at its cable operations, due to increases in distribution fees. Revenue fell noticeably at its traditional broadcast operations due to a shortfall in advertising.

In a statement, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch cited ratings improvement at Fox News Channel during the period, and suggested the company expected “to grow our business for the long-term.”

During the call, Murdoch suggested the company would place new emphasis on digital media, noting that even Fox News Channel, the company’s main asset, was not likely to see rapid growth from cable TV in years to come. Instead, said Murdoch, new business was likely to be found in podcasting, digital venues, and a new weather-news unit Fox had been building in its Fox News Media unit.

The executive also took time to explain the company’s recent decision to cede rights to broadcast “Thursday Night Football” to Amazon a year ahead of schedule. Fox had long intended to not extend its term with the Thursday games and focus instead on the Sunday football broadcasts that have become a more lucrative property. The Thursday-football decision is not likely to affect retransmission discussions with distributors, Murdoch said.

And he pointed to new opportunities available in the coming “upfront” marketplace, when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the next program cycle. Murdoch said Tubi, the video-streaming site, would be a bigger part of discussions and represented a venue advertisers could use to reach younger consumers and a more diverse groups than the ones who tuned in traditional TV.

More to come…