Analyst: ‘24’ Released Early on DVD to Bolster News Corp. Q4 Results19 May, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Jack Bauer saved the United States from nuclear jihad; can he save News Corp.?
The seventh season of the show about a counter-terrorism agent was released May 19 on DVD and Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment — less than 24 hours after the show’s primetime finale on Fox TV.
That’s a reversal in strategy from previous “24” TV DVD releases that typically bowed prior to the new season in the fall, which in this case (season eight) premiers Jan. 17, 2010.
Indeed, Fox incorporated the dual-release sales strategy with the two-hour “24” special, “Redemption,” which aired Nov. 23, 2008, and was released on DVD at the same time.
Pali Capital analyst Richard Greenfield said it is no coincidence Jack Bauer is again coming to retail early since he suspects News Corp. is looking for ways to bolster near-term profitability and “24” in packaged media represents pure incremental profit.
“We are forecasting News Corp. to experience a weak fiscal Q4 2009 [ended June 30], with operating profits down 26%,” Greenfield said in a note.
News Corp. reported an 8% rise in third-quarter (ended March 31) filmed-entertainment operating income to $282 million. Filmed entertainment, which includes 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, generated more than $1.4 billion in revenue, down 10% from more than $1.6 billion last year.
A Fox representative was not immediately available for comment.