Chase Carey Calls Fox TV Ratings ‘A Little Disappointing’

Network COO singles out “The X Factor” as a show that didn’t pan out, but has high hopes for the return of “24”

21st Century Fox President and Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey spoke Tuesday about the state of his film and network businesses, the latter’s newest cable offshoots, and the challenges of monetizing the coming mobile TV environment.

“We have pretty modest expectations on the film segment,” Carey said at the 22nd Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference in Palm Beach Florida. “Clearly we have not had a great six months in the film business, but the film business ebbs and flows.”

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Carey has higher expectations on the television side. “We’re expecting solid growth,” Carey said, though he admitted that “ratings have been a little disappointing this year.” He singled out “X Factor” as a piece of optimistic programming that clearly did not pan out: “It declined faster than we planned,” Carey said.

His high expectations are rooted in event series such as “24,” “Gracepoint” and out-of-cycle pick-ups like “Hierogylph” and “Backstrom.”

He also noted the 10-network “Cosmos” premiere on Sunday is something that he would like to do more of.

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Carey then touched on hot broadcast TV issues facing 2014, including retrans fees, giants merging and going mobile.

When asked why Fox elects to do shorter retransmission agreements than some of its competitors, Carey explained the decision as one that allows a more gradual, incremental climb towards what he believes his broadcasts to be worth.

“I still don’t think we’re getting anything close to what is fair value for it,” Carey said. “If you’re not getting fair value and yet you cant get there in one fell swoop, what you’d like to do is keep coming back to it.”

Also read: Fox’s ‘Cosmos’ Watched by 8.5 Million Across 10 Networks

On the pending Time Warner Cable/Comcast merger, Carey says his network is not too concerned, and that the two cable providers are “not that dissimilar.” He also expects more of these kinds of ventures to come, especially if this one is a success. “You’ve got to see how they blend together,” Carey said. “I think players will get bigger.”

Ultimately, in that deal, Carey says the real issue to come from the experiment will be the implications that may stem from having only one large broadband provider.

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When prompted, Carey said that Fox Sports 1 and FXX are “pretty much on track,” though he admits “there will be some growing pains.” Carey added that the parent company really needs two or three years to build out the new networks.

The big challenge that Carey sees for the future is mobile, which comes with several infrastructure challenges and is hard to monetize without cannibalizing the network business itself. Obviously, Fox is not alone in facing that troubling shift.