News Corp Reports Strong Subscriber Growth for Q2 FY20

Subscriptions were up, but revenue in many categories was down.

News Corp Reports Strong Subscriber Growth for Q2 FY20

Source: New Corp

Last week, News Corp posted strong subscriber growth for the second quarter of fiscal year 2020, including significant milestones. The Dow Jones now has more than 3.5 million subscribers, and The Wall Street Journal has exceeded 2 million digital-only subscribers.  Total digital subscriptions at Dow Jones increased 17%, while The Wall Street Journal’s increased by 13%. Circulation and subscription revenue increased 3% due, in part, to Dow Jones’ consumer products which had a 5% increase in circulation revenue. Dow Jones’ consumer products reached 3.4 million total subscribers, an 8% increase.

“Dow Jones revenues increased by 4% in the most recent quarter, compared to 1% for The New York Times,” said Robert Thomson, News Corp CEO in a February 7 news release. “Dow Jones is significantly more digital than The New York Times, with 62% digital revenues as we reported at fiscal year-end, including our growing Professional Information Business.”

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News Corp Reports Strong Subscriber Growth for Q2 FY20

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“There is a strong and growing appetite for factual, fair and deeply reported journalism, and our latest subscription and financial results demonstrate how well Dow Jones, the Journal and our other publications and products are serving that vital public need,” Thomson added.

In its earnings release, the company boasted that it surpassed The New York Times’ revenue growth for the fourth quarter. It also compared the Dow Jones’ percentage of digital customers at 57% to The Times’ 44%. News Corp also noted that it outpaced The Times in digital advertising.

Other highlights noted in the earnings release include the following:

–       Total revenues were $2.48 billion, a 6% decline year-over-year.

–       Net income was $103 million, down from $119 million for the second quarter of fiscal year 2019.

–       Diluted net income per share was $0.14, compared to $0.16 for the prior year period.

–       Revenue for Dow Jones’ Professional Information Business grew 8%.

–       Revenue for Risk & Compliance saw 21% growth, which was the 12th consecutive quarter with growth over 20%.

–       The company expects Risk & Compliance to hit $160 million in revenue in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.

–       At the end of the quarter, Barron’s subscriptions were up 8% to 615,000.

–       The Wall Street Journal’s new podcast on Spotify, “The Journal,” has been downloaded 20 million times since its launch last September.

News and Information Services yielded the highest percentage of total revenue. Here is the breakdown by segment:

Business Segment

Revenue

Percent of Total Revenue

News and Information Services

$1.241 billion

50.0%

Subscription Video Services

$0.501 billion

20.2%

Book Publishing

$0.442 billion

17.8%

Digital Real Estate Services

$0.294 billion

11.9%

Other

$0.001 billion

0.01%

Total Revenue

$2.479 billion

100%

Despite the positive spin Thomson put on the earnings report, not all of the news was good. Here are some operational highlights for the quarter.

–       Quarterly revenue decreased $16 million, or 1%, primarily due to fluctuations in foreign currency.

–       Dow Jones revenue grew 4%, News UK revenue grew 2%, but News Corp Australia revenue declined 9% and News America Marketing revenue declined 9%.

–       Advertising revenue decreased 5%, due to fluctuations in foreign currency, weakness in the print advertising market, primarily in Australia, and lower revenue from home delivered products.

–       The Wall Street Journal’s average daily digital subscribers from October through December 2019 was 1,929,000, compared to 1,709,000 for the prior year period.

–       Digital subscriptions were also up for News Corp Australia, The Times and Sunday Times and The Sun.

–       Revenue for subscription video services decreased 11% to $61 million.

–       Broadcast subscriber churn was 16.0%, an increase from 15.6% in the prior year period.

–       Book publishing revenue decreased $54 million, or 11%.

–       Revenue in digital real estate services dropped $17 million, or 5%.

Insider Take:

News Corp took a very interesting approach in reporting its second quarter earnings for fiscal year 2020. It released the actual earnings report on February 6, 2020, complete with financials and descriptive details. While there were, indeed, some positives, there were a lot of negatives to the report. However, the very next day, News Corp issued a news release, cherry picking the facts and comparing its digital growth to The New York Times. This was surprising and unnecessary. Each company is very different, with different strategies, business segments and content. What is the point of News Corp comparing itself to The New York Times Co., except to put a spin on a less-than-stellar earnings report?