21st Century Fox

Georgia Velkes, Jenna Levine, and Gabrielle Marzolf

Overview

21st-cnetury-fox-logo

In 1985, News Corporation, a newspaper company from Australia owned by Rupert Murdoch, acquired Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Murdoch subsequently
built the company into one of the biggest media companies in the world. [1]

Rupert Murdoch Executive Chairman

Rupert Murdoch
Executive Chairman

In 2012, News Corporation split into two companies. News Corporation kept all the newspaper assets and media assets were put into a new company named 21st Century Fox. 21st Century Fox has holdings in multiple media businesses internationally and in the United States, including broadcast and cable television networks like FOX, FX, Fox News Channel, and National Geographic, which reach over 1.8 billion subscribers. [2] The film company, 20th Century Fox, is one of the Big Six Hollywood Studios that produce and distribute films worldwide.

 

 

Financials

The company had a strong fiscal quarter ending September 30, 2016 with total revenue increasing 7% to $6.51 billion and a net income increase of 22% to $821 million. [3] A significant portion of that boost came from the Cable Network Programming division.

Gretchen Carlson, former anchor at Fox News

Gretchen Carlson, former anchor at Fox News

The Fox News Channel experienced significant growth, despite the Roger Ailes scandal in the beginning of the quarter, in which former anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes for sexual harassment. Fox settled the lawsuit, which incited controversy throughout the company, and Ailes resigned. During the lawsuit, Fox faced great controversy and criticism, which increased when Ailes left the company with a $40 million exit agreement.

Roger Ailes, former CEO/Chairman of Fox News

Roger Ailes, former CEO/Chairman of Fox News

In spite of the controversy, cable revenues increased 10% to $3.81 billion, driven by higher ratings and advertising revenue. The US presidential election, broadcasted on Fox News, increased domestic advertising revenue by 6% and gained the network more viewers. The film business revenue increased more than 6.8% to $1.91 billion which is credited to the theatrical release of “Independence Day: Resurgence” and the home entertainment release of “Deadpool” during the quarter. [4] The positive earnings release showed a 14.6% rise in the stock price over the past 3 months, gaining $3.62. [5]

 

New Licensing Agreements

As the television industry and television consumption transforms, 21st Century Fox’s goal is to become a central player in the new digital age. Fox Networks Group recently made a deal with AT&T Inc. and its DirecTV subsidiary. DirectTV launched a streaming service called DirecTV Now that allows viewers to stream their programming instead of watching it via satellite transmission. Fox News, Fox Business, FX and many more Fox networks will be available on AT&T’s live streaming service in addition to the content offered to DirecTV subscribers. [6] Fox has also made a licensing deal with Hulu to carry Fox channels on the new over-the-top (OTT) live TV subscription service Hulu will soon release. [7] The deal includes the FOX broadcast network along with the Fox Sports channels, National Geographic and more.

While 21st Century Fox licenses content to companies that partner programming with new technology like OTT providers, issues have arisen with subscriptions services like Netflix. In September, 21st Century Fox filed a lawsuit against Netflix for illegally “poaching” two under-contract executives: Tara Flynn, the former VP of Creative Affairs at Fox21, and Marcos Waltenberg, the former VP of Promotions at 20th Century Fox. [8] In retaliation, Netflix sued 21st Century Fox for the alleged use of illegal contract clauses. The outcome of these lawsuits could potentially impact how businesses manage employment contracts in the future. [9]

 

TV Ratings

This past quarter Fox Networks Group saw a huge increase of ratings with not only the presidential election and Fox News, but also the FOX network as a result of their rights to the World Series.

Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com)

Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com)

Huge interest in this year’s presidential election saw primetime coverage reach a total of 71 million viewers, and Fox News channel’s 12.2 million viewers beat out CNN’s 11.2 million views for the most viewers of any cable channel for the 7pm-3am time slot, leaning toward a generally conservative audience. [10]  When the election results announced Donald Trump as president elect, Fox News Channel maintained over 10 million viewers.

This fall, Fox’s overall ratings for the season rose from fourth to first place, with nearly 40 million viewers and a 12.1 rating with the 18-49 demographic. Previously, NBC was the number one network, however the World Series ratings boosted Fox to the top with an 8% advantage over its competitors. [11] Furthermore, unlike other networks, Fox has not experienced a ratings drop related to professional football broadcasting. Analysts suggest that Fox retained viewers because the network does not show any primetime games and delivers the best overall Sunday coverage including their post-show program, The OT. [12] Over Thanksgiving, Fox Sports aired the Washington Redskins versus Dallas Cowboys game, which, with 35.1 million viewers, was the highest rated program of the holiday and the highest rated NFL game to date. [13]

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

Unlike the other business divisions of 21st Century Fox, the film studio exhibited a weak performance over the past year, which resulted in leadership changes. Over the summer official Fox sources announced that the Chairman/CEO of the studio, Jim Gianopulos, would leave and Stacy Snider would replace him. [14] Since Snider has taken over, she has made a number of changes senior management, resulting in the departure of the marketing president Marc Weinstock, who left for Annapurna Pictures. [15]

Deadpool (2016) official movie poster

Deadpool (2016) official movie poster

With all the personnel changes at the studio, senior management is focusing on the upcoming slate of movies for the next two to three years. After the commercial success of “Deadpool”, the studio faces pressure to release similarly profitable films. “Avatar 2” has been rumored to be released around Christmas 2018, so the studio will face pressure to follow up the highest grossing film of all time at the global box office. Fox’s film adaption of “Assassin’s Creed” generated anticipation of how the company would transition the content from a video game format to the big screen. [16]

The film is not yet released, but the hype surrounding the film shows that Fox is not afraid to take risks, and presents the company as more forward thinking.

Fox has the production and distribution rights to Marvel characters related to the X-Men property, including X-Men, Deadpool and Wolverine. Between films utilizing these characters and sequels to popular franchises—“Alien: Covenant”, “Kingsman: Golden Circle” and a total of four Avatar sequels—the studio has a significant amount of content to exploit over the next two to five years. [17]

Conclusion

Overall, 21st Century Fox is well poised for continued growth in revenue and income going forward.  Strong licensing revenue to emerging and existing OTT providers as well as traditional networks and broadcasters is expected to continue and a strong pipeline of franchise tentpole films over the next three to five years should ensure continued financial success of the film studio.  The introduction of new leadership at the studio and Fox News will ensure continued growth and success at these important divisions of the company.


References:

[1] 21st Century Fox. Rupert Murdoch. Retrieved November 29, 2016. https://www.21cf.com/managment/rupert-murdoch

[2] 21st Century Fox. Investor Relations. Retrieved November 29, 2016. https://www.21cf.com/investor-relations

[3][4] Lang, Brent. November 2, 2016. Variety. 21st Century Fox Earnings Get Lift From Fox News, ‘Deadpool’ Home Entertainment Debut. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://variety.com/2016/film/news/21st-century-fox-earnings-get-lift-from-fox-news-deadpool-home-entertainment-debut-1201907353/.

[5] Nasdaq. FOXA Earnings Data. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://www.nasdaq.com/earnings/report/foxa

[6] Moritz, Scott. November 21, 2016. Bloomberg. AT&T Expands Fox Programming Pact to Include Online TV Service. Retrieved November 29, 2016. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-21/at-t-expands-fox-programming-pact-to-include-online-tv-service

[7] Spangler, Todd. November 1, 2016. Variety. Hulu Inks Disney, 21st Century Fox Deals for Internet TV Service. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://variety.com/2016/digital/news/hulu-disney-21st-century-fox-live-tv-1201906066/

[8] Flint, Joe. September 16, 2016. Wall Street Journal. 21st Century Fox Sues Netflix for Poaching Employees. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/21st-century-fox-sues-netflix-for-poaching-employees-1474053655

[9] Patten, Dominic. October 19, 2016. Deadline. Netflix Hits Back At Fox In Exec-Poaching Lawsuit, Claims Studio “Bullies” Employees Into Contracts. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://deadline.com/2016/10/netflix-fox-lawsuit-cross-complaint-executive-poaching-1201839020/

[10] O’Connell, Michael. November 9, 2016. The Hollywood Reporter. TV Ratings: 71 Million Watched 2016 Election Returns Pour In; CNN and Fox News Set Records. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/tv-ratings-nbc-leads-early-election-night-numbers-945493

[11] [12] O’Connell, Michael. November 4, 2016. The Hollywood Reporter. World Series Catapults Fox to No. 1 Slot for the Fall Season. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/world-series-catapults-fox-no-1-slot-fall-season-944192

[13] O’Connell, Michael. November 25, 2016. The Hollywood Reporter. TV Ratings: NBC Parade Climbs – But Fox Football Dominates Thanksgiving. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/tv-ratings-nbc-parade-climbs-but-fox-football-dominates-thanksgiving-950471

[14] Fleming, Mike, Jr. June 16, 2016. Deadline. Fox Makes It Official: Stacey Snider Is Chairman/CEO In June 2017; Jim Gianopulos Takes Role At 21st Century Fox. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://deadline.com/2016/06/jim-gianopulos-stacey-snider-fox-executive-changes-1201773922/

[15] McClintock, Pamela. November 7, 2016. The Hollywood Reporter. Fox Shake-Up: Marketing President Marc Weinstock Departing Studio. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/fox-shake-up-marketing-president-marc-weinstock-departing-studio-944878

[16] Pech, Dana. November 9, 2016. Movie Pilot. Why ‘Assassin’s Creed’ Will Break The Video Game Movie Curse. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://moviepilot.com/p/why-assassins-creed-will-break-the-video-game-movie-curse/4142547

[17] Chitwood, Adam. November 27, 2016. Collider. Fox Sets Release Dates for Two Secret Marvel Movies; Pushes ‘Kingsman 2’ to October 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://collider.com/fox-marvel-movies-release-dates-deadpool-3/

Images

(In order of appearance) 

[1] Retrieved November 29, 2016. https://www.zacks.com/stock/news/194013/what-rupert-murdochs-news-corp-and-21st-century-fox-really-own

[2] Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://www.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c8/Rupert_Murdoch_-_Flickr_-_Eva_Rinaldi_Celebrity_and_Live_Music_Photographer.jpg/220px-Rupert_Murdoch_-_Flickr_-_Eva_Rinaldi_Celebrity_and_Live_Music_Photographer.jpg

[3] Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://cdn.thedailybeast.com/content/dailybeast/articles/2015/06/26/how-a-fox-news-host-handled-sex-assault/jcr:content/image.img.2000.jpg/1435310106558.cached.jpg

[4] Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://www.adweek.com/files/imagecache/node-inline/media-visionary-roger-ailes-hed-2015.jpg

[5] Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://global.fncstatic.com/static/v/all/img/og/og-fn-foxnews

[6] Retrieved November 29, 2016. http://www.manutd.com/sitecore/shell/~/media/D971B02AD7A246678E4092D1D2AE12C6.ashx?w=1280&h=720&rgn=0,281,2160,1501

[7] Retrieved November 29, 2016. https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjQyODg5Njc4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzExMjE3NzE@._V1_UY268_CR1,0,182,268_AL_.jpg

 

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