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20th Century Fox Posts Flat Second Quarter

6 Feb, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

News Corp. COO Chase Carey makes no secret his desire to launch a nationwide sports network taking on Disney’s ESPN

Twentieth Century Fox Studios Feb. 6 reported second-quarter (ended Dec. 31) operating income of $383 million, which was down less than 3% from operating income of $393 million during the previous-year period. Revenue topped $2 billion, which was the same as last year.

The results included the successful worldwide home entertainment performance of Ice Age: Continental Drift, which compared nicely with the prior year’s quarterly worldwide home entertainment performances of Rio, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men: First Class, according to the studio.

The studio’s results also reflected the successful theatrical results from Taken 2, which has grossed about $375 million at the global box office, and Life of Pi, which has grossed more than $500 million worldwide and is nominated for 11 Oscars, including Best Picture.

Indeed, 20th Century Fox Studios garnered 31 Academy Award nominations, the most of any studio.

In parent News Corp.’s fiscal call with analysts, COO Chase Carey spent little time on filmed entertainment, instead reaffirming the media company’s “worst kept secret” of wanting to launch a nationwide sports network sometime in the future to take on market heavyweight ESPN.

Fox Sports, which has broadcast rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers through this year, also has rights to the Pac-12 and Big-12 Conference college football games, in addition to operating 20 regional sports networks. It recently wrested from ESPN rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup soccer competition.

“We believe we have the unique combination of rights and assets to potentially build a very attractive business,” Carey said, without elaborating. “If we launch a [sports] channel, we’re going to launch a channel we think will excite people. However, building a 24-hour channel is rights as well as [proprietary] programming. We think we have proven a unique capability in the sports business to really do exciting things.”

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