Murdoch: Power of Sports Seen in $500M Day

Super Bowl generates record revenue for Fox
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The Super Bowl helped give Fox its first $500 million revenue day, executives said during 21st Century Fox’s earnings call on Monday afternoon, the day after the big game.

Speaking on the call with analysts, CEO James Murdoch noted that sports was a key driver in the company’s second quarter as well.

“It’s emblematic of our broader strategy around big brands and making investments in the programming that matters for most of our customers,” he said.

In Fox’s second quarter, playoff and World Series baseball boosted the company’s cable network FS1 to its highest-rated week ever and gave its broadcast network the most-watched baseball game in a quarter century.

And while there have been questions about NFL ratings all season, the Super Bowl was seen by 170 million total viewers, he noted, in addition to generating $500 million in ad revenue.

“So the power of sports can’t be overstated,” Murdoch said at a time when some analysts are questioning whether sports costs are getting out of hand.

Murdoch also said that Fox would be rolling out a major overhaul of its streaming apps. This “will deliver a steep change for customers in quality, in discovery and engagement,” he said.

The apps will also create an opportunity for advertising innovation.

“That's around dynamic ad insertion, it’s pricing a customer’s time in a different way, it’s about engagement units and other things, really lowering the ad loads and getting a higher yield,” he said. “We’re already seeing non-linear advertising growth at a very, very good clip in the US and internationally, and that's because, from a data perspective and then a monetization perspective flowing from that, with innovative new ad products and different loads, you’re going to have a much better experience.”

Analyst Rich Greenfield of BTIG Research, asked if Fox was looking to build a direct-to-consumer product as it improved its app and consolidated Sky in Europe.

Murdoch said the goal now was to improve the customer experience. “But, certainly, it's also an option for us in the future whether or not we’d like to have independently priced access to that suite of apps, and that’s a decision that we haven't yet made, but one certainly that we feel we have the capability and the general wherewithal and experience in terms of managing direct-to-consumer businesses and subscriber businesses to tackle.”

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