Pay-TV fees overcome slow quarterly ad sales for Time Warner Inc. and Fox

Shrugging off a sluggish ad economy with growing subscription fees for their cable networks, both Time Warner Inc. and 21st Century Fox posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings results Tuesday.

After resisting Fox's $80 billion takeover bid over the summer, Time Warner Inc. reported a 3.3 percent rise in Q3 revenue to $6.24 billion, beating consensus Wall Street forecasts of $6.16 billion.

The media conglomerate was able to turn a profit amounting to 97 cents a share--ahead of forecasts of 94 cents a share--even though it incurred a $303 million bill for severance and restructuring, due to massive layoffs across all its divisions. (Two-thirds of that cost went to restructuring Turner Networks.)

Ad sales were pretty much down across divisions for Time Warner, but pay-TV fees increased 10 percent at HBO and Turner Networks.

Likewise, Fox saw a 12 percent spike in overall revenue to $7.89 billion for what was its fiscal first quarter ending Sept. 30, driven by an 18 percent rise in domestic affiliate fees for cable channels.

Fox COO Chase Carey dismissed increasingly popular notions that recently weak TV ad sales reflect a profound and lasting shift on the part of brands toward the Internet, noting that "it's a pretty modest shift."  Perhaps, in true Fox spirit, campaigning for the day's elections, Carey blamed the recent sluggishness on the softness of an overall economy.

For more:
- visit this Time Warner Inc. investor relations page
- visit this 21st Century Fox investor relations page

Earnings roundup: Sizing up pay TV earnings for the third quarter of 2014

Related links:
Murdoch, Fox withdraw Time Warner offer
Cable networks AMC, Discovery, others face hard times, analyst says
It's really happening: HBO sets a la carte streaming plans for 2015

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