Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. saw a better-than-predicted 12% increase in third-quarter revenue, the company said. Operating earnings climbed 14%, buttressed by the conglom's television operations and broadcast of the Super Bowl, the most watched ever.

On Wednesday the company reported profit of $1.05 billion, or 47 cents a share, which is down from $2.9 billion, or $1.22 a share a year ago. The company said the fall was due to a one-time gain last year due to its purchase of a controlling stake in satellite operator Sky Deutschland.

With that acquisition adjusted for, per-share profit rose to 47 cents from 32 cents, and revenue increased to $8.22 billion from $7.35 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a profit of 35 cents a share on $7.99 billion in revenue.

Revenue for the filmed entertainment division dropped to $2.28 billion from $2.35 billion, due largely to the lack of breakout theatrical releases. The unit's operating income (prior to depreciation and amortization) was up 6% to $354 million from $334 million in the same quarter last year.

Execs say that filmed entertainment profited from television production including subscription VOD sales to Amazon as well as the syndication of "Modern Family" and the success of "24: Live Another Day," The Americans" and "How I Met Your Mother." "Rio 2" has earned nearly $400 million at the global box office, but because it was released last month, it will be factored into the company's fourth-quarter earnings.

Given the upcoming theatrical releases of "How to Train Your Dragon 2" and "X-Men: Days of Future Past," analysts are optimistic for the fiscal fourth quarter.

Television revenue increased to $3.15 billion from $2.83 billion, bolstered by additional advertising revenue and sustained growth in retransmission revenue. Operating profit jumped 32% to $288 million.

"American Horror Story" concluded its season as the most watched original series on Fox's cable networks, and execs noted that "The Americans" and "Justified" were also strong performers for FX.

The Fox network's "American Idol," however, "did not attract the following we anticipated or the ratings we hoped for," the company said during its earnings call.

James Murdoch, currently co-COO of News Corp., addressed his role in the company, as a new contract between himself and his father, Rupert, has not yet been papered. "Rupert and I have a new agreement…and a clear understanding of where we are going," he said on the call.

Direct broadcast satellite television revenue rose to $1.53 billion from $1.32 billion. Operating profit fell to $58 million from $91 million due to Sky Italia's broadcast of the Sochi Winter Olympics, among other factors.

 

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