The New York Giants weren't the only ones to walk away winners from Super Bowl XLII.
News Corp. said it reaped $250 million in advertising revenue for the day of the game -- the biggest day in Fox network history. The football game, with the Giants' unexpected victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots, was the second-most-watched telecast ever, with 97.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Only the finale of "MASH" 25 years ago attracted a larger audience -- 106 million.
"The night couldn't have gone better for us," News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said in a call Monday with analysts.
News Corp. on Monday reported fiscal second-quarter profit of $832 million, or 27 cents a share, for the three months ended Dec. 31. That's up 1% from the $822 million it earned in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 9.5% to $8.6 billion, buoyed by strong performance at its Fox broadcast and cable networks (the Super Bowl will be included in News Corp.'s third-quarter results).
The Fox Interactive Media division, which includes social networking site MySpace, also showed steady growth in search and ad revenue. It reported $233 million in revenue for the quarter, up 87% from the same time a year earlier. The deal Google Inc. struck to provide search and advertising on MySpace contributed $62 million in revenue for News Corp.
"This really just shows how substantial a business MySpace has become," said Richard Greenfield, a media analyst with Pali Research, who has a "buy" recommendation on News Corp. stock. "While investors continue to stress about MySpace versus Facebook, it's our belief that social networking is in the early innings."
MySpace is also expected today to announce a platform that would encourage software developers to write applications for the social network's 110 million registered users.
"Given our scale, we provide the largest and most attractive platform for developers, and we think it will be a home for innovation in social network applications," said Peter Chernin, News Corp. president. "And it positions us to reap the rewards from new concepts that our user base desires."
The television division's operating income of $245 million for the quarter was more than double the $112 million reported in the same period a year earlier, despite lower revenue.
Operating results at the Fox network, for example, nearly doubled. It was able to lower its programming costs by cutting back on the number of Major League Baseball postseason games it aired even as it collected higher ad revenue for a prime-time lineup that included shows such as "House," which Chernin said is now the second-highest-rated scripted show among adults 18 to 49.
At the same time, however, operating income at the Fox-owned TV stations fell 16%, in part because of lower political advertising revenue and the absence of a divisional series in Major League Baseball.
"I know that there are concerns about the health of the ad market," Chernin said. "But we . . . have not seen any weakness to date. Pricing remains very strong for both entertainment and sports."
Chief Financial Officer David DeVoe said the writers strike, which began in November, did not have a material effect on results.
Analyst Larry Witt of Morningstar Inc. said the effects of the strike weren't felt in December, which is typically a period of holiday specials and reruns.
"I think you'll see some of the bigger impact of the strike at the end of this quarter," Witt said.
The cable networks reported operating income of $337 million, up 23% from a year earlier even at a time when News Corp. incurred start-up losses of roughly $50 million for the Big Ten Network and Fox Business Channel, DeVoe said. The division was propelled by the powerhouse of Fox News Channel, whose operating income grew 47% because of higher revenue from advertising and affiliate fees.
Operating income for the film studio slipped to $403 million, from $470 million the previous year, when such blockbusters as "Ice Age: The Meltdown" and "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" were released on DVD or in theaters.
DeVoe raised News Corp.'s guidance to investors, saying he expected growth in operating profit for fiscal 2008 to be "in the mid-teens."
News Corp. shares fell 5 cents to $19.96 on Monday and were unchanged after hours.
Times staff writer Greg Johnson contributed to this report.
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Jump in revenue at Fox Interactive Media, which includes social networking site MySpace, for the second quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with the same period a year earlier
Rise in operating income at Fox News Channel in the second quarter from a year earlier
Worldwide box office for "Alvin and the Chipmunks"
Source: News Corp.