Fox Corporation posted a loss in its second fiscal quarter despite seeing healthy gains in revenue from advertising and distributors, citing a decline in the value of the gambling group Flutter.
Fox, the owner of the Fox broadcast network and Fox News Channel, said it notched a 9% increase in revenue in the period, collecting $4.44 billion in the period, compared to $4.09 billion a year earlier. But the company reported a net loss of $85 million, or 15 cents per share, compared with profit of $224 million, or 37 cents a share a year earlier. Fox said the loss was primarily due to “the change in fair value of the company’s investments” recognized in Flutter Entertainment, in which Fox has a significant stake. Flutter is the parent of gambling sites like FanDuel.
Fox said overall advertising revenue rose 6%, citing pricing strength at the Fox broadcast network and the continuing return of live sports after the coronavirus outbreak.
During a call with investors, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch said the company’s ongoing focus on capturing advertising dollars associated with live TV viewing was bolstering the company’s work. With all TV networks seeing softening ratings for scripted entertainment programming, he said, more advertisers are focusing on “live news and sport” and digital streaming. He felt Fox’s investments in sports rights, including the coming launch of the USFL spring football league, as well as Fox News, would capture more of that activity.
The company’s cable networks saw revenue increase 10% $1.64 billion largely due to the return of college football games, additional Major League Playoff games and sales at Fox News Media. Revenue at its broadcast and station operations rose 8% to $2.76 billion.
Murdoch said he was optimistic about the looming industry’s upfront sales season, citing new activity by sports-gambling operators.