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Fox News’ Pre-Election Ad Surge Boosts Parent Company’s Cable Revenues

Quarterly income grows by more than $1 billion thanks in large part to Disney selling off former Fox RSNs

Cable ad sales at Fox Corp. rose $45 million in the company’s first quarter of fiscal year 2021, as Fox News ratings climbed ahead of the 2020 presidential election, the company revealed in its Q1 earnings report Tuesday.

According to Fox, the company’s quarterly income grew by more than $1 billion ($1.12 billion from $513 million) thanks in large part to Disney — which purchased a large chunk of 21st Century Fox assets for $71 billion in 2020 — selling off former Fox regional sports networks, resulting in a $462 million cash payment to Fox.

Fox beat Wall Street’s expectations for its Q1 2021, with analysts forecasting earnings per share (EPS) of 74 cents on $2.57 billion in revenue, according to a consensus compiled by Yahoo Finance. On Tuesday, Fox reported adjusted EPS of $1.18 on $2.72 billion in revenue, rising 2% from the $2.67 billion in revenue it posted in the comparable year-ago quarter.

Despite the 18% advertising revenue increase at cable networks thanks to Fox News, which were partially offset by fewer live events at FS1, Fox saw ad sales decrease 15% at broadcast and 7% overall due to coronavirus-related postponement of live events at Fox Sports and delays in the return of broadcast network Fox’s scripted series this fall.

Affiliate revenue was +10% with growth at broadcast and cable segments.

Fox says there was a 7% decrease in “other revenues, primarily due to lower sports sublicensing revenues at the cable network programming segment as a result of COVID-19.”

Most media companies were financially rocked in the third quarter of 2020, which is when the greatest impact (thus far, at least) of the coronavirus shutdown was felt.

“We delivered solid financial and operating results across the Company in the first quarter while we continued to navigate the impacts of the pandemic on our businesses,” CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a prepared statement accompanying the financials. “Our growth was led by FOX News Media where the FOX News Channel has been the highest-rated television network in America for the last four months and has consistently achieved record digital engagement across its platforms. We have successfully adapted to changes in the sports calendar and entertainment production schedules to deliver key programming to audiences and advertisers across FOX, most notably at our local television stations where political advertising will have achieved a record for any election. Our digital-native businesses – Tubi, Credible and FoxBet – are also performing well above expectations as we use the collective power of all the FOX brands to drive consumers to these innovative and strategic growth platforms. Across the Company, we are demonstrating strong momentum underpinned by a healthy financial position.”

Fox stock closed Monday at $27.40 per share. The regular U.S. stock markets will reopen at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Murdoch and other Fox executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail.