Fox Cable Net Revs Spike 14%, Broadcast Up 6%

Cable networks had strong advertising sales growth at 21st-Century Fox in the fourth quarter of 2013 -- with its broadcasting TV ad revenue only up slightly.

Domestic advertising was up 7% for Fox’s cable networks, in part driven by double-digit percentage gains at FX Networks and its national and regional sports networks, as a result of viewership increases at Fox’s new FXX and Fox Sports 1 network.

Broadcasting advertising revenue registered a small uptick. All this was pulled back by lower political advertising spending at Fox’s TV stations and general lower entertainment ratings at the Fox Television Network, specifically from lower ratings at “X Factor.”

On the plus side, the higher levels were largely due to National Football League and Major League Baseball programming ratings gains.

Revenue from cable network programming grew 14% to $2.97 billion -- this includes a 15% higher boost in domestic affiliate revenue. Broadcasting revenue was 6% higher to $1.63 billion -- including a 6% gain in retransmission revenue. Operating profit continued to grow with its cable networks, up 2%, while broadcasting operating profit dipped 11% to $218 million.

Fox’s Filmed Entertainment unit had difficult comparisons to the fourth quarter of 2012, when “Ice Age: Continental Drift” and “Taken 2” scored big results. Although revenue was up 7% to $2.48 billion, operating profit was down 20% to $337 million. The positives for the division came from higher syndication revenues from “Modern Family,” as well as better revenues from “Homeland” and subscription video-on-demand business from “The Killing.”

The inclusion of Sky Deutschland lifted Fox satellite business during the period -- some $605 million in revenues to $1.52 billion.

Overall, Fox’s revenues for the fourth quarter were up 15% to $8.16 billion. Net income was about half that of its previous period -- to $1.22 billion, down from $2.45 billion. This did not deter investors. The mid-day stock price of Fox was up 3.6% to $32.89.

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