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Fox Beats Q2 Earnings Expectations With First Fall Ratings Win in a Decade

Company reports higher revenues from leasing Fox Studio Lot to Disney

Fox topped Wall Street’s earnings and revenue forecasts for the second quarter of fiscal 2020 on Wednesday.

For the three months ending on Dec. 31, representing the company’s second fiscal quarter for 2020, Fox reported $3.78 billion in revenue, topping analyst estimates of $3.65 billion. Fox also posted an adjusted earnings per share of 10 cents, which narrowly surpassed projections of 4 cents EPS.

“Our results reaffirm that Fox Corporation is delivering on the operational and financial objectives that we established less than twelve months ago. Our brands are exhibiting strength in a competitive marketplace and delivering healthy top-line growth as we continue to invest strategically to expand the reach of our portfolio and further diversify our revenue streams,” said Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch. “Meanwhile, we are taking a balanced approach to capital allocation, including the return of $500 million to shareholders in the form of share repurchases since our last earnings release. Coming off an incredibly successful Super Bowl LIVand with the buildup to the November Presidential Election ahead of us, we look forward to continuing our momentum through calendar 2020.”

Broadcast saw a shakeup in the Nielsen rankings this autumn, with Fox grabbing its first fall TV ratings win among the all-important adults 18-49 demographic in a decade. The network also claimed its first-ever fall ratings victory among the key demo when counting entertainment shows only — so excluding the ratings it gets for sports programs like “Friday Night SmackDown” and “Thursday Night Football” — thanks mainly to “The Masked Singer,” which aired its second season in the fall, and returned for its third cycle after Super Bowl LIV on Sunday.

During the call with analysts, Fox said it brought in $600 million in gross revenue on Super Bowl Sunday.

Over at Fox News, the quarter was less rosy. The top-rated news network saw a $16 million decrease in advertising revenues, primarily due to two factors: The year-ago quarter got a record amount of political advertising for the 2018 midterm elections, and the current quarter experienced a higher-than-normal amount of breaking news coverage due to President Trump’s impeachment.

Overall, ad revenues across the entire company were up 1%, with sports and entertainment at Fox broadcast network offsetting the other declines. Fox also said it got a 32% increase from other revenue sources at the cable network programming in the sports arena, with higher sub-licensing fees and pay-per-view boxing revenues.

Fox attributed other strong revenue growth from its leasing agreement with Disney to use the Fox Studio Lot — Disney owns 20th Century, but Fox kept the lot in the sale — as well as the consolidation of Credible Labs.