Fox Corp. matched Wall Street expectations for its fiscal second quarter, powered by NFL football in the U.S. and football at the World Cup.
The company reported total revenue in the quarter ending December 31 of $4.61 billion, up 4% from the year-earlier period, and earnings of 48 cents a share.
Affiliate fee revenues rose 1% thanks to 6% growth at the Television unit. Ad revenue climbed 4%, no mean feat in a tough economic climate, mostly due to the World Cup in Qatar and strong NFL results at Fox Sports. Other boosts came from political spending at the company’s local stations and growth for streaming service Tubi. The category of “other revenue” increased 13%, which the company said was primarily due to consolidating entertainment production companies in the Television unit and higher Fox Nation subscription revenue. Fox has not disclosed subscriber numbers for Fox Nation, which launched in 2018.
It is the first quarterly report for Fox since the company and its corporate sibling, News Corp., abandoned a potential merger. A statement from the Rupert Murdoch-controlled companies said they had concluded that a combination was “not optimal” for shareholders. Minority shareholders had expressed opposition to bringing the companies back together after nearly a decade of separate operations.
The quarterly numbers for Fox are the latest referendum on the state of traditional TV advertising. While it has a fast-growing free streaming service, Tubi, bringing in ad revenue, the majority of Fox’s revenue comes via traditional pay-TV channels as well as its lucrative string of local stations. As the ad market started souring in the second half of 2022, Fox was among the few companies to report encouraging results. Helping offset the broader pullback by many advertisers due to inflation and other economic factors were midterm election spending on Fox News and the stations as well as surging tune-in for live sports, especially the NFL and college football.