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The raucous US election continued to boost ratings and advertising at 21st Century Fox through the end of last year, shielding the company from industry-wide shifts away from cable television.

The Murdoch- controlled company beat earnings forecasts for the three months to the end of December, with cable TV advertising revenues rising by 12 per cent in the US. The company pointed to higher political advertising for its local broadcast stations and Fox New Channel, as media buyers sought out spots during highly watched election coverage.

“Our record-breaking post-season baseball run underscores the immense value of our sports programming, as well as the broader competitive advantage we have built through our other leadership positions in entertainment and news,” said executive chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch.

Operating income for the three months to the end of December grew 27 per cent to $857m compared to $674m in the same period a year ago. When adjustments were stripped out, earnings per share were $0.53 a share, ahead of consensus forecasts for $0.49 a share.

Baseball also lifted earnings, thanks to historic viewership levels for the MLB world series in October, underscoring the importance of live sports in capturing television audiences.

Total Fox revenues for the quarter rose 4 per cent on a year-on-year basis to $7.68bn, just shy of forecasts for $7.72bn.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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