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Election, Sports Drive Fox

The Presidential election and a record World Series helped drive revenue at 21st Century Fox in the fiscal first quarter, and domestic ad revenue rose in the double digits.

At Fox' cable networks, revenue rose 7% in the quarter to $3.97 billion and cash flow increased 6% to $1.3 billion, driven by strong ratings at Fox News during and after the Presidential election, won by network fan Donald Trump, as well as strong post-season baseball ratings at FS1. Domestic affiliate fees were up 7% in the period.

On the broadcast side, revenue rose 12% to $1.9 billion and cash flow increased 35% to $376 million, fueled by a record World Series. The seven-game match-up between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs was the most-watched Fall Classic in 25 years.

Overall revenue was up 4% to $7.7 billion and cash flow increased 15% to $1.99 billion.

The revenue results were in line with analysts’ estimates, who expected a strong showing from Fox News. But Fox more than doubled ad sales predictions – some  analysts expected a 5% gain in ad revenue.

“We delivered a second consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth, driven by solid increases in affiliate and advertising revenues across cable and television,” Fox executive chairman Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement. “Our record-breaking post-season baseball run underscores the immense value of our sports programming, as well as the broader competitive advantage we have built through our other leadership positions in entertainment and news. We also continue to excel creatively, with our television studio producing the number one series on six networks, FX Networks leading all networks in Golden Globe wins and our film studio recognized with 7 Academy Award nominations. Additionally, during the quarter we announced an offer to purchase the approximate 61% interest in Sky we do not already own. We expect the transaction will generate significant adjusted earnings per share and free cash flow accretion and it provides clarity on our near-term capital allocation priorities.”