Blockbuster films boost 21st Century Fox profits

<p>21st Century Fox has reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profits.</p>

Blockbuster films such as Gone Girl and The Maze Runner have helped to boost profits for 21st Century Fox.

The company, owned by Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch, announced that it had made $6.2 billion (£4.1 billion) between October and December in its last quarter. This was a huge increase on the $1.2 billion made during the same period a year earlier. The profits had enjoyed a spike despite revenues falling one per cent to $8.06 billion.

Fox owed much of its success to its films released earlier in the year. Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, has received critical acclaim with Pike being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in the Academy Awards.

The company has made a number of changes in recent months. It sold stakes in Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia to British partner Sky Broadcasting. In the US it cancelled the expensive-to-make X Factor reality show while also adding Major League Baseball World Series championship to its programming.

In a statement, Mr Murdoch said: "We delivered solid quarterly results despite continuing currency headwinds and ratings challenges at the FOX broadcast network. Our growth was led by sustained affiliate revenue growth in our channels business. I am also very proud of the creative successes that we have achieved at Twentieth Century Fox."

Sky enjoys customer boost

In the UK, Sky announced that it had enjoyed a boost in customer numbers during the latter stages of 2014. In the second half of 2014, the firm stated that it had gained an extra 204,000 customers representing its highest level of growth for nine years.

The broadcaster announced a 16 per cent rise in adjusted operating profits, which had increased to £675 million. It was the first trading update since the likes of Sky Italia, BSkyB and Sky Deutschland became one entity in November 2014.

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