Thanks to Ad Revenue Gains at Fox News and FX

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NEW YORK ( -- Increased ad revenue at cable network Fox News and the broadcast outlet Fox Network helped boost income for News Corp., which reported a $1 billion profit for its fiscal second quarter yesterday.
Photo: Hoag Levins
Fox News has refused to discount its pricing and commands an average CPM (cost per thousand) of around $14 in the typical news viewer demographic.

Fox News, which has increased ad revenue and raised prices for its ad inventory, did particularly well, reporting operating income growth of 24% for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with the year previous period. For the January to November 2005 period, Fox News recorded ad revenue of $407.8 million, compared with CNN ad revenue of $350.5 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Fox News has refused to discount its pricing and commands an average CPM (cost per thousand) of around $14 in the typical news viewer demographic (aged 25-54) for a mix of prime-time and weekend programming, according to media buyers.

Fox News, launched in 1996, first charged advertisers a CPM of $3 and had previously struggled to raise those rates against rival CNN, despite higher ratings. Fox News is in the process of negotiating new carriage deals with cable operators and plans a second business-focused network by the end of the year.

News Corp’s cable network programming unit saw operating income rise 15% or $35 million to $262 million for the quarter. Entertainment-focused cable channel FX also saw double-digit revenue growth driven by increased affiliate revenues, additional subscribers and higher ad revenues on higher ratings.

Fox’s decision to launch its fall lineup earlier in the season helped lower promotional costs. Fox launched its 2005-06 fall schedule with hit show “Prison Break” in the final week of August, compared with the 2004-05 fall season, which launched in November after the Major League Baseball postseason. TV operating income was up 20%, or $30 million, to $183 million, on lower promotional costs at Fox Network and Asian network Star, though that figure was offset by a decline at Fox Television Stations.

Net income rose to $1.08 billion up from $386 million in the period to Dec. 31 compared with the year earlier period.

The strong quarter was largely the result of the sale of TSL Education, which sold for $395 million. Excluding the sale, earnings from continuing operations increased to $694 million for the quarter. In movies, the company suffered from poor comparisons with the successful performance last year of home entertainment sales of “Day After Tomorrow.” The filmed entertainment unit delivered operating income of $299 million.

The company’s newspapers, primarily based in the U.K. and Australia, saw operating income declines to $69 million from $115 million. Redundancy costs associated with a change of printing facility and ad weakness contributed to the drop.

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