News Corp worldwide reports $1.4bn net loss, but paid subscriptions rise

News Corp chief backs Foxtel despite subscription revenue fall

The New York-based media company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $372 million or $0.64 per share, compare to last year's loss of $430 million or $0.74 per share.

Under pressure Foxtel has managed to hold onto subscribers with the pay TV operator now undergoing a transformation program under the new management after a $33M revenue drop.

The company's news business, which houses the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, made $1.29 billion in revenue, rising 1 percent from a year earlier and accounting for nearly half of overall revenue as the number of digital subscribers grew.

But the result was skewed by accounting writedowns, including $US998 million for the consolidation of Foxtel and Fox Sports in Australia.

Chief executive Robert Thomson said: "We also saw meaningful operational improvements at the news and information services segment led by higher digital paid subscribers and disciplined cost initiatives, notably in Australia". In addition, the company's total earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) grew more than 40% y-o-y.

In an investor call regarding News Corp's full-year results, talk of any mergers or acquisitions, to perhaps combat the looming mega merger of Nine and Fairfax, was slim.

Overall revenue was 29% higher at $2.69 billion.

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At the end of June, Foxtel had about 2.8 million subscribers, higher than past year mainly due to the launch of Foxtel Now.

The digital real estate services unit reported a revenue rise of 19 per cent. According to the company's internal figure, closing digital subscribers at News Corp Australia's mastheads as of June 30, 2018 were 415,600, compared to 363,600 in the prior year.

In the quarter, advertising revenue declined $12 million, or 2%, globally, but this was more than made up by 5% growth in subscriptions to $26 million.

News Corp, which is chaired by Rupert Murdoch, is the ultimate owner of The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun, as well as The Wall Street Journal and the publisher Harper Collins.

"HarperCollins' success underscores the importance of intelligent editors and great writers in creating premium content".

Thomson said a new sports OTT streaming product, which is due to roll later this year, would help drive subscriptions and a Foxtel IPO is still on the cards.

When the company launched the "new" News Corp. five years ago, "we promised to be relentlessly digital and global and that we would remain faithful to the principles and the values inherited from the founding company", Thomson told analysts.

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