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August 11, 2023

News Corp touts growth of Dow Jones as wider revenues drop

The company saw digital subscriptions grow but advertising revenues decline in the past year.

By Bron Maher

Dow Jones has doubled its profitability over the past four years, new financial results for parent company News Corp show.

But the rest of News Corp, which includes the New York Post, News UK and News Corp Australia, suffered a year-on-year slowdown.

The company’s full-year accounts for 2022/23 record revenue declines across most segments and a 15% drop in business-wide earnings before interest, tax, debt and amortisation (EBITDA), to $1.4bn.

And in the fourth quarter (ending 30 June), the company recorded a net loss of $32m.

The Wall Street Journal and Sun parent company attributed most of its annual falls at least partially to an accounting quirk: the preceding fiscal year, ending 30 June 2022, was 53 weeks long, whereas the 2022/23 fiscal year was a more traditional 52 weeks long. As a result it generated revenue for one less week, a drag on profit that was compounded by currency fluctuations.

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In common with some other companies, News Corp defines its fiscal year as 52 weeks, or four quarters each of which is 13 weeks long. This leaves two days a year unaccounted for, necessitating the inclusion of a 14-week quarter every few years.

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But the company trumpeted “impressive results for the burgeoning professional information business” at Dow Jones, which posted both its highest quarterly profit and highest annual profit.

Last year News Corp acquired the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) and Base Chemicals (since renamed Chemical Market Analytics, or CMA) which now sit under the Dow Jones business. The company said EBITDA for the segment rose 25% quarter-on-quarter and 14% for the full year, and that revenue from risk and compliance products rose to over $250m.

Dow Jones also includes the Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch, Barron’s, Investor’s Business Daily, and Factiva.

Chief executive Robert Thomson said: “Not only has Dow Jones doubled its profitability over the past four years but it is also nearing a landmark moment with our lucrative B2B offerings expected to be the largest contributor to profitability in fiscal 2024 and a key driver of future growth.”

Subscription growth, advertising decline in News Corp 2022/23 results

Digital subscriptions grew across News Corp properties. The Wall Street Journal finished June with 3.4 million digital subscribers (a 10% year-on-year increase) and just shy of 4 million subscriptions in total (a 6% increase).

At Barron’s, digital subscriptions grew 20% to 1 million and total subscriptions grew 13% to 1.2 million.

News UK’s The Times and Sunday Times had 565,000 digital subscribers on 30 June, up from 508,000 the year before.

Digital subscribers to News Corp Australia as of 30 June were 1.06 million (943,000 for news mastheads), up from 964,000 (882,000 for news) the year before.

Nonetheless, News Corp’s circulation revenue remained largely static once the missing week is removed from calculations (and is lower if it is left in).

Advertising revenue suffered. In Q4 at Dow Jones, if the missing week is excluded, advertising revenues were down 6% on the prior year. Including that week, they decreased 14%, with an 18% decrease in print advertising revenue and a 10% decline in digital advertising revenue.

The company said News UK saw an increase in digital advertising, but that it only partially offset a decline in print advertising.

Meanwhile the New York Post’s digital network reached 145 million unique visitors in June 2023 – down from 198 million in June 2022.

Despite this, Thomson claimed that the company sees brighter times ahead.

“Our results showed marked improvement in the second half, so with inflation abating, interest rates plateauing and incipient signs of stability in the housing market, we have sound reasons for optimism about the coming quarters.”

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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  • CFO
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  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
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