News Corp.’s news and information segment, its largest division by far, saw total revenues decline 3% from $1.5 billion in the third quarter of 2013 to $1.45 billion in the third quarter of 2014.
The company’s total advertising revenues fell 4% from $958 million to $920 million, while subscription and circulation revenues edged up 1% from $679 million to $683 million. The decline can partly be attributed to the sale of the Dow Jones Local Media Group. The company’s international business also suffered, with ad revenues at its Australian newspapers down 5% in the quarter.
Revenues at News Corp.’s book publishing business jumped 24% to $406 million, reflecting the acquisition of romance publisher Harlequin as well as increases at Harper Collins. The company’s cable network programming revenues edged up 5% to $139 million.
Looking ahead, CEO Robert Thomson said things were looking up in the U.S., thanks to improved results at The Wall Street Journal in the fourth quarter: “Advertising at The Wall Street Journal has been robust in recent weeks, with October showing strong gains versus the previous year.” Thomson also reported some good news from overseas, with News Corp.’s Australian businesses picking up, noting: “The advertising headwinds in Australia have dissipated.”
At the end of the third quarter, News Corp. announced its intention to acquire Move, an online platform that matches consumers and realtors for real estate sales and rentals across the U.S. When the deal is complete, News Corp. will hold an 80% stake in Move, while REA Group Limited, a News Corp. subsidiary focused on real estate in Australia, will own the remaining 20%.
News Corp. is paying $950 million for Move, which reported total revenues of $227 million and $29 million in pre-tax earnings last year.
As noted, News Corp. is hardly alone in reporting weak newspaper results. Previously, McClatchy Co. announced that total revenues decreased 3.3% from $287 million in the third quarter of 2013 to $277.6 million in the third quarter of 2014. And Gannett Co. announced that its total publishing segment revenues, including community newspapers and USA Today, slipped 3.6% in the third quarter.