Fox revenue rises, boosted by political advertising

Company reports 14% gain in ad revenue, largely driven by ads on its local stations, to close out 2020

Fox Corp. said political advertising on its local television stations reached record levels at the end of last year, fueling revenue growth for the company's latest quarter.

The company behind Fox News, Fox Sports, the Fox broadcast network, local-television stations and other media assets Tuesday reported $4.09 billion in revenue for its fiscal second quarter that ended Dec. 31, up 8% compared with the same period a year earlier.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
FOXAFOX CORP.37.95+3.16+9.08%

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS

That was stronger than forecasts from analysts, according to FactSet. Profit fell to $224 million, or 37 cents a share, from $300 million, or 48 cents a share, for the year-earlier period.

Advertising revenue was up 14% overall in the quarter, a gain driven in part by demand for political ads on its local stations, Fox said. The company also saw stronger advertising revenue tied to its cable properties, which include Fox News.

Fox News was the No. 1 cable news channel in 2020, its 19th consecutive year reaching that milestone. But Fox began to lose ground in the ratings after the election and has fallen behind CNN and MSNBC in several key viewership categories.

American mass media and publishing company News Corporation logo seen outside their headquarters building. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Smaller rivals Newsmax and One America News Network meanwhile have gained some viewers with their very pro-Trump programming as well.

FOX 1Q PROFIT, REVENUE RISE, DRIVEN BY CABLE NETWORK PROGRAMMING

Fox News and sister channel Fox Business have been making changes to their lineups. Fox News has replaced its 7 p.m. news hour with opinion shows with rotating hosts including Maria Bartiromo and Trey Gowdy.

At the same time, it canceled Lou Dobbs' show on Fox Business Network last Friday. Mr. Dobbs had been one of the most ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump and was named as a defendant in a $2.7 billion defamation suit brought against the Fox News group by Smartmatic USA Corp. The voting-machine company alleged Fox News and Fox Business aired defamatory comments about its technology.

Fox Corp. and Wall Street Journal parent News Corp share common ownership.

Fox Monday filed a motion to dismiss the suit, arguing that Smartmatic's claims challenge speech that is protected by the First Amendment. Fox said the election-manipulation accusations President Trump's legal advisers made were newsworthy and the network was justified in covering them. A group of federal and state officials have said there is no evidence that any voting system changed or deleted votes in the 2020 general election.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE 

No replacement has been named for Mr. Dobbs. Fox Business hired Larry Kudlow, a former CNBC anchor and a U.S. National Economic Council director in the Trump administration, to host a 4 p.m. weekday show beginning next week.

Overall, the company's cable business generated about $1.49 billion in quarterly revenue, up from $1.47 billion a year earlier.

Television revenue rose to $2.56 billion from $2.27 billion.

Like other media companies, Fox last year had to adjust to the Covid-19 pandemic, which had caused the cancellation of some professional sports events and entertainment productions. The company Tuesday also said that the cancellation of some college football games due to the pandemic weighed on some revenue streams during its latest quarter.