News Corp defied a challenging economy to post a better than expected 1% rise in revenue to $US2.50 billion in the September quarter.
However, the global media group reported lower advertising revenue in its News Media segment which includes the Australian business, whose contribution was marked down by a stronger US dollar.
Revenue at News Corp Australia fell 7% to $US238 million, driven by a 5% negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations and lower advertising revenues (down 11%), both print and digital. Adjusting for a high US dollar, dragging at Australian earnings, the dip was only 2%.
Digital subscribers at News Corp Australia were 1,049,000 (937,000 for news mastheads), compared to 1,012,000 (929,000 for news mastheads) last year.
“We had a sterling start to the new Fiscal Year, with rising revenues and increased profitability despite difficult economic conditions in some of our markets," says CEO Robert Thomson.
"Our first quarter revenues were slightly higher at $2.5 billion, while our profitability rose 4%, marking the second consecutive quarter of profit growth.
"Our positive performance in the quarter follows the three most profitable years since the creation of the new News Corp.
"In our view, these results certainly highlight the disparity between the value of our company and our share price, which we believe does not reflect our present profitability, yet alone the potential of our incomparable, growing businesses.
"The quarter particularly highlighted the prowess of Dow Jones, led by its professional information business, where revenues surged 14%, driven by Risk & Compliance and Dow Jones Energy.
"Book Publishing reported a 67% increase in profitability, with the logistical issues at Amazon resolved, and both the frontlist and backlist performing.
"We are actively working to make the most of our premium content for AI and are engaged in advanced discussions that we expect to bring significant revenue to the company in return for the authorised use of our peerless content. Our quest is to maximize value for all investors, so we are assiduously reviewing our structure.”
At Foxtel, revenue was down 3% to $US486 million, due to negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. Adjusted revenue was 1% higher at $507 million.
Higher revenue from Kayo and BINGE, driven by increases in both volume and pricing, were partially offset by the impact from fewer residential broadcast subscribers.
Foxtel Group streaming subscription revenues represented about 30% of total circulation and subscription revenues in the quarter, as compared to 25% in the prior year.
As of September 30, Foxtel’s total closing paid subscribers were nearly 4.6 million, a 2% increase compared to the prior year, primarily due to the growth in streaming subscribers driven by Kayo and BINGE.
Broadcast subscriber churn in the quarter improved to 11.4%, compared to 14.2% in the prior year.
Broadcast ARPU (average revenue per user) for the quarter increased 3% to A$85.
News Corp segment results September quarter 2023:
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