Rupert Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox

Fox News topped all U.S. basic cable channels from January through March, for the first time.

By Reuters
May 4, 2016

Twenty-First Century Fox, owner of cable channels including Fox News as well as the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio, reported a better-than-expected 5.7% rise in quarterly adjusted revenue as ad sales and affiliate fees rose.

Total day and primetime ratings for Fox News topped all U.S. basic cable channels from January through March, the first time in the network’s history that it has led basic cable in both categories for a full quarter, according to Nielsen data.

The network averaged nearly 1.4 million total-day viewers over the quarter and 2.4 million primetime viewers.

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Fox fox has benefited from the raucous U.S. election campaign. The Republican debate televised on Fox on March 4 drew 16.9 million viewers, the biggest audience for a presidential match-up in 2016, according to Nielsen.

Revenue from the company’s cable network business, which also includes the Fox Sports and FX channels, rose nearly 10% to $3.94 billion in the quarter. The cable business accounts for more than half of the company’s total revenue.

FX also got a boost from strong ratings for the miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

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Domestic advertising sales in the cable business rose 17% in the period, while overall television revenue increased 5 percent to $1.3 billion.

Revenue in Fox’s film studio business fell 2.8% to $2.32 billion, despite the success of R-rated superhero film “Deadpool” and “Kung Fu Panda 3”.

The studio will release potential hits “X-Men: Apocalypse” and “Ice Age: Collision Course” in the next few months.

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Revenue excluding the sale of Fox’s direct broadcast satellite TV businesses rose to $7.23 billion from $6.84 billion in the third quarter ended March 31.

Analysts on average had expected revenue of $7.18 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

However, net income attributable to shareholders fell to $841 million, or 44 cents per share, from $975 million, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 47 cents per share, in line with analysts’ expectations.

The company’s shares were up marginally in after-hours trading.

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