EARNINGS CALL

Fox Corp. Sees Sunday NFL As Best Package

“The Sunday NFC package has been the most watched NFL package for the past 16 years. Our NFC coverage is an important foundation for the Fox Network and strategically aligns with our local stations, where we own and operate the Fox affiliate in 14 of the 16 NFC markets,” Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch told analysts.

Now it can be told. Fox Corp. Executive Chairman-CEO Lachlan Murdoch told analysts in his Wednesday afternoon fiscal third quarter (ended March 31) conference call that it was always his company’s strategy to exit Thursday Night Football in its latest NFL negotiations.

Fox will continue as the home of the Sunday NFC package — the most valuable right package in the NFL portfolio — for the next 13 seasons,” the CEO said.

“The Sunday NFC package has been the most watched NFL package for the past 16 years. Our NFC coverage is an important foundation for the Fox Network and strategically aligns with our local stations, where we own and operate the Fox affiliate in 14 of the 16 NFC markets,” Murdoch said.

Fox will exit Thursday Night Football a year earlier than its contract had specified, allowing the package to move to Amazon for the 2022-23 season. That will save on costs, while Murdoch maintains that the Sunday afternoon package is what really matters.

And while Fox is preparing to launch an NFL-branded channel on its ad-supported Tubi platform, the CEO says there are no plans to use its digital rights to move the games to a subscription model.

“We are very mindful of the exclusive value of live NFL on broadcast television. And we’re very mindful of the value that attributes to both our O&Os and also to all of our highly valued affiliates. So, we don’t have a streaming service behind a paywall where we would currently put a simulcast of our NFL games, and we have no plans currently to do so,” Murdoch said.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

With $500 million in ad revenues missing from the fiscal third quarter, as the game was on CBS this year, CFO Steve Tomsic said excluding the Super Bowl and the consolidation of Tubi, total company affiliate revenues increased 10%, with 18% growth at the television segment and healthy 6% growth at the cable segment.

“Our reported advertising revenues declined 24% in the quarter, due to the absence of the prior year’s broadcast of Super Bowl 54 and the lower news cycle,” Tomsic said. With the Fox Network and Fox New leading the way, he sees continued strength the rest of the year.

The CFO also noted that the O&O stations — adjusted for the Super Bowl, political and the Nexstar transaction — returned to growth in the quarter.


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