Fox Tops Wall Street’s Quarterly Estimates Despite Tough Comparisons With 2020 Super Bowl Period

Fox Corp. beat Wall Street analysts’ forecasts for its fiscal third quarter, with results that reflected difficult comparisons with the Super Bowl period a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings per share came in at 88 cents during the period ending March 31, well ahead of analysts’ consensus for 58 cents. Total revenue reached $3.22 billion, about $100 million ahead of the Street but down from $3.44 billion in the same quarter in 2020.

Affiliate revenue increased 10%, powered by an 18% gain in the Television unit. Advertising revenue of $1.2 billion slid by almost one-quarter from $1.57 billion in the prior-year quarter. The shortfall was attributed to the absence of an event comparable with 2020’2 Super Bowl LIV, though Fox said the slide was partially offset by the consolidation of Tubi. Fox paid $440 million to acquire the streaming service in a deal that formally closed in early 2020. Additional NFL regular season and playoff broadcasts in the current-year period also helped avert an even sharper ad downturn.

Speaking of football, CEO Lachlan Murdoch is apt to get questions during the company’s earnings call with analysts about the decision to exit Thursday Night Football a year early. Amazon Prime Video is taking over the NFL slot a year earlier than planned, beginning in 2022.

Fox struck a rights extension of its own with the NFL, though, in the same package of deals in which Amazon was a participant. The company will continue to air Sunday games and share Super Bowl rights.

Another potential topic will be Fox News Channel, the anchor of the company’s Cable Network Programming unit. Ad revenue there slipped to $283 million from $304 million. Strong pricing was “more than offset by a slower news cycle,” the company said in its earnings release. The “Other” revenue line fell to $120 million from $157 million, a slide the company blamed on lower sports sublicensing revenue and the absence of pay-per-view boxing in the current-year quarter.

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