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August 9, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:12am

Record News Corp profits dwarf $20m TalkTV launch costs

By Bron Maher

Profits at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp grew by a third to $1.67bn (£1.38bn) in the 2022 fiscal year, according to the company’s latest full-year results.

The news-focused parts of the company did well, with advertising and circulation rises at its consumer and financial publications.

Revenue grew by 11% to reach $10.39bn (£8.6bn) in the fiscal year ending 30 June. Chief executive Robert Thomson said both revenue and profitability were at a record level.

“The news media segment was the single largest contributor to the enhanced profit picture this fiscal year with profitability expanding to $217m from $52m, bolstered by growth in digital advertising revenues and record digital subscriber numbers,” he said.

Thomson added that the business “has been fundamentally transformed – we are vastly more profitable and have created a potent platform for even greater growth, to the benefit of all our investors and other stakeholders”.

How did News Corp news brands do?

Full-year revenues for News Corp’s news media segment (which excludes Dow Jones but includes the New York Post, News Corp Australia and The Times and Sun titles as well as Wireless Group in the UK) grew 10% compared with the prior year to $2.4bn (£2bn).

Profitability (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation, or EBITDA) for the segment grew by 317% across the year, from $52m (£43m) to $217m (£179m).

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The company did not disclose the print circulations for its UK newspapers, which are no longer publicly disclosed by ABC, saying only that The Times and Sunday Times had 445,000 digital subscribers as of 30 June, up 19% on 374,000 a year earlier.

The Sun, which does not have a paywall, “reached approximately 165m global monthly unique users in June 2022,” up more than a third on the figure of 123 million a year earlier, the results said.

News Corp’s results did say circulation and subscription revenues were up by $83m (£68.6m) or 8% year-on-year, putting this primarily down to “higher content licensing revenues, digital subscriber growth and cover price increases, partially offset by print volume declines”, with a negative  $5m (£4.1m) impact from foreign currency fluctuations. 

The company said advertising revenue in the news media segment “increased $120m, or 14%” in the year, indicating total news advertising revenue for the year of $857m (£708m). It also said it had observed a particular recovery of print advertising in the UK.

However growth in the news media business was “partially offset” by costs of more than $20m (£16.5m) relating to TalkTV, which launched in April, and “other digital initiatives”.

TalkTV launched early in the second quarter of 2022 and News Corp’s fourth fiscal quarter. Like rival right-leaning broadcaster GB News, it has struggled to build a television audience but made headway building online reach.

[Read more: TalkTV ratings three months in: News channel a distant fourth for TV viewers]

Of News UK’s Wireless Group, which incorporates Times Radio, Virgin Radio, Talkradio and Talksport, the results said only that it “also saw higher revenues during the fiscal year” and was a “positive contributor” to EBITDA.

And US tabloid the New York Post was described as a “positive contributor” to EBITDA. News Corp said its “digital network reached approximately 198m unique users in June 2022,” a 61% increase on the 123 million a year previously.

What about The Wall Street Journal?

News Corp said subscriptions at The Wall Street Journal, part of the Dow Jones segment, had grown by 8% to 3.75 million compared to the previous year, while digital-only subscriptions grew 14% to 3.1 million.

Meanwhile print circulation at the WSJ fell by around 11% from 734,000 to 654,000. Digital subscriptions accounted for 83% of WSJ’s total in the most recent quarter.

The picture was similar at fellow News Corp financial publication Barron’s, where print circulation fell approximately 14% to 190,000 over the year but digital-only subscriptions, which account for 82% of all subs, grew 21% to one million.

Overall, the Dow Jones properties experienced what News Corp called “its highest full year revenues and segment EBITDA since its acquisition”, driven by “growth in circulation and subscription revenues from the acquisitions of Investor’s Business Daily, OPIS and CMA”. 

Full year revenues for the Dow Jones segment were up 18% to $2bn (£1.65bn) compared to the prior year.

[Read more: 100k Club – Digital news subscriptions top 30m across largest publishers]

Phone-hacking costs

The business also recorded $2m of costs related to “UK newspaper matters” – i.e. settlement costs arising from the phone-hacking scandal – in the three months to 30 June.

In the full year to June the company recorded $11m of costs related to “newspaper matters” and $20m of litigation costs. The same figures for 2021 were $10m and $40m, respectively.

[Read more: News of the World closure ten years on – How hacking scandal cost Murdoch’s UK tabloid business £1bn]

Picture: Peter Parks / AFP via Getty Images

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