Fox reports modest 2% revenue growth as Disney acquisition nears

Fox got an advertising revenue boost from having more NFL games. (Fox Sports)

21st Century Fox is staying on track with modest 2% revenue growth during its fiscal first quarter of 2019 as Disney works toward completing its $71.3 billion deal for much of the company.

The company reported quarterly revenues of $7.18 billion, up 2% from the $7 billion one year ago. Fox attributed the rise to higher affiliate and advertising revenues reported at the Television and Cable segments partially offset by lower theatrical revenue reported at the Filmed Entertainment segment.

Fox said its income from continuing operations reached $1.29 billion, up 54% from $839 million, thanks largely to a noncash tax benefit of approximately $220 million, or $0.11 per share, related to the company's decision to sell its interest in Sky to Comcast.

"We continue to deliver against our growth plan even as we make important strides toward completing our Disney transaction and launching Fox in the first half of 2019. We have assembled a stellar leadership team for Fox, giving us further confidence in the new company's ability to capture opportunities in live programming while delivering long-term value for shareholders.  Our quarterly performance builds on the operational and financial achievements of last year and sets up our businesses for continued momentum under both the enlarged Disney and the future Fox,” said Executive Chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch in a statement.

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Fox’s cable network segment once again accounted for the bulk of the company’s revenues. Domestic cable revenue increased 7% led by higher affiliate and advertising revenues while international cable revenue declined 4%. Domestic affiliate revenue rose 9% due to contractual rate increases and domestic advertising revenue rose 7% due largely due to higher pricing at Fox News.

Fox’s television segment recorded revenue growth of 20% overall thanks to advertising revenue growth of 22% driven by FIFA World Cup matches and more National Football League games, as well as higher political advertising revenue related to the midterm U.S. elections. Retransmission consent revenue grew 19%.