News Corp.'s Carey Says Sports Rights Will Pay Off

News Corp. COO Chase Carey said the company’s new long-term rights deals with Major League Baseball and NASCAR offer “key, must-have content” that will justify their expense.

“I want to emphasize that we only make commitments like this when we’re confident we can create real incremental value,” Carey said on an earnings call Tuesday.

He went on to say, however, that a World Series lasting just four games (which was the lowest-rated ever) this fall was one reason the company was disappointed with the performance at the Fox network in the July-September quarter. Another was ratings for new-season shows, which he said were “below our expectations.”

With advertising, he said the scatter market is pacing up at “a modest premium” above upfront pricing at Fox.

In the quarter, cable networks were a boon for News Corp. as domestic ad revenue rose 8%, propelled by the Fox News Channel and regional sports networks.

Overall, News Corp. said revenue rose 2% in the quarter by 2% to $8.14 billion. Net income rose to $2.23 billion from $738 million, helped by the sale of a stake in NDS Group.

With network ratings lackluster, Carey said it will be critical for Fox to continue to pursue a dual-revenue stream approach and look for ways to monetize digital and on-demand viewing, including via TV Everywhere consumption.

“We’ve got a lot more to do and clearly a lot of opportunities that we still have to develop …and we're not where we should be on some things like TV Everywhere, so I’ll acknowledge there is work to do, but I think we’ve got a lot going on and I think we have made headway on a number of fronts,” he said.

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