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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Fox Sticking With Linear TV As Key Player In Live Sports

  • CEO Murdoch doubles down on support for existing pay-TV infrastructure
  • Arrival of Oregon, Washington to Big Ten seen as enhancements to media rights deal
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Even as the media landscape fractures and streaming captures increasing attention, Fox still believes traditional linear television is a critical tool to monetize its sports assets.

In a quarterly earnings call with analysts Tuesday, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch doubled down on the existing cable and satellite TV infrastructure.

“We think that the pay-TV ecosystem continues to be of tremendous value for our businesses and really drives the value of Fox Sports and that content, and will for a long time to come,” Murdoch said. “We don’t envision a moment when you leave pay TV and quickly transition to a direct-to-consumer universe. We think you will enter a phase where both are important.”

Murdoch’s comments aren’t surprising, given that sports television audiences are still typically much larger than their streaming counterparts. In May, he blasted the shift of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football to Amazon as a “disaster” following a 42% viewership drop.

Fox also posted flat quarterly revenue of $3.03 billion and a 7% boost in full-year revenue of $14.91 billion, figures boosted in part by TV ad revenue from Super Bowl LVII and the Women’s World Cup.

But sentiment still runs directly against a business in accelerating decline, as cord-cutting has slashed the number of traditional TV households from 102.1 million in 2014 to 63.2 million in 2023, fueling Disney CEO Bob Iger’s belief that linear TV “may not be core” to his company.

Realignment Boost

Murdoch also said the forthcoming entry of Oregon and Washington to the Big Ten will enhance Fox’s new media rights deal with the conference.

“We think these additions will only strengthen our football franchise across Fox Sports, but particularly our partnership in the Big Ten Network. So we think it’s very positive for us across the board,” he said.

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