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Saturday, February 24, 2024
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Fox Defends Sports Assets, Cable Bundle Amid Industry Challenges

  • Murdoch-led company veers against sports streaming trends
  • College football singled out as a key source of gains
Fox Sports

Like many media companies, Fox has no shortage of challenges, including accelerating cord-cutting and a weak ad market. The company itself saw its fiscal first-quarter net income fall 32% to $415 million.

But sports stands as an important bright spot for Fox.

Despite traditional TV usage falling below 50% of all consumption for the first time this summer, newly elevated Fox Corp. executive chair and CEO Lachlan Murdoch says the cable bundle still stands as the company’s core business driver.

“The cable bundle remains our largest and most important revenue stream,” Murdoch said. “We believe that it will remain our largest for years to come.”

Such is Fox’s belief in the traditional TV ecosystem that it’s not rushing to mirror the rest of the market. Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max has added a sports tier, Amazon is hitting new audience thresholds with “Thursday Night Football,” Netflix is moving into live sports with even bigger aspirations, and other network operators such as Comcast and Disney also are fully embracing sports streaming.

“We don’t envisage any kind of significant live sports on Tubi in the near-, medium-, and perhaps even long-term future,” Murdoch said. “We are not interested in moving premium content away from our cable distribution partners. That would be a mistake for us and for them.”

Ad Strength

Sports also continues to stand out for Fox in an otherwise tepid television ad market, Murdoch says, specifically college football, which “has never been more popular. Maybe it was underpriced in past years.”

Gains in that sport, however, are being undercut by a five-game World Series on track to be that event’s least-watched edition ever.

“Sometimes you get lucky and get a seven-game series with a matchup that excites the imagination of fans, and sometimes you get less lucky,” he said. “We would have liked to have seen more games and more national excitement.”

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