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Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA) Q4 2019 Earnings Call Transcript

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Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ: FOXA)
Q4 2019 Earnings Call
Aug 7, 2019, 4:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Fox Corporation Fourth Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]. I'll now turn the conference over to Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives. Mr Joe Dorrego. Please go ahead, sir.

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

Thank you very much, operator. Hello, everyone, and welcome to our Fouth Quarter Fiscal 2019 Earnings Conference Call. Joining me on the call today are Lachlan Murdoch, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, John Nallen, Chief Operating Officer and Steve Tomsic, our CFO. First Lachlan and Steve will give some prepared remarks on the most recent quarter and fiscal year and then we'll be happy to take questions from the investment community. Please note that this call may include forward-looking statements regarding Fox financial performance, operating results strategy, among other things. These statements are based on management's current expectations and actual results to differ materially from what is stated as a result of certain factors identified on today's call in the company's SEC filings.

Including the Companys Registration Statement on Form-10 and subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. Additionally, this call will include certain non-GAAP financial measures, reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures are included in our earnings release and our SEC filings which are available in the Investor Relations section of our website. With that, I'll turn the call over to Lachlan.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Joe. Good afternoon and thank you all for joining us today on Fox Corporations year-end earnings call. While we are ending a fiscal year we're also just starting our growth trajectory and are hitting key milestones at a good pace. Specifically, we just reported strong financial results. We recently concluded a very successful advertising upfront very successful, we're making good progress on our distribution renewals and we are having a compelling content lineup across our linear and digital channels, all of which positions us well as we commence our first full fiscal year 2020. For fiscal 2019 we delivered exceptional financial results, achieving 12% revenue growth and 8% EBITDA growth our revenue growth was led by double-digit gains in both affiliate and advertising revenues.

As you all know about half of our annual revenue comes from affiliate revenue and despite continued subscriber declines we achieved 12% affiliate revenue growth in fiscal 2019. Renew and distribution arrangements with our partners is a normal course activity for us and we have a competencies renewals without much clamor over many cycles, this past fiscal year was no exception. We were able to reset affiliate rates, particularly in the Television segment successfully renewing numerous distribution agreements. Today, the remainder of our annual revenue principally comes from advertising in fiscal 2019 we achieved 10% growth led by the addition of Thursday Night Football and record gross political revenues of more than $185 million at the Fox stations group surpassing by almost 50% the previous record set in fiscal 2013 during the Obama, Romney election.

A particularly noteworthy facet of this year's growth was a 24% increase in digital advertising revenues, led by 46% growth at foxnews.com [Phonetic] alone. Our advertising partners are clearly supportive of our ongoing programming strategy this year's advertising upfront was one of the strongest we have seen in many years, yielding higher pricing across entertainment, sports and news specifically for Fox this strength reflects advertisers recognition of our unique capacity to deliver a highly engaged audiences at scale. Across our concentrated portfolio we were awarded for our continuing content investments on the entertainment front, we were able to achieve top of market low teen CPM increases and mid to high-single digit volume increases in addition, we were able to command mid to high single-digit pricing increases in sports and news in addition, even at this early days we're very encouraged by both the volume and pricing, we are seeing for the Super Bowl.

We are in a strong television advertising market right now, which is due in part to an especially renewed interest by marketers in prime time and sports programing, which is clearly to our great advantage as you know, a significant amount of the company's revenue is tied to the Fox broadcast network, which is supported by key sports and entertainment content as well as by local programing delivered every day across America our network commands premium advertising and retransmission revenue rates because it delivers a complete schedule of diverse content genres that engage audiences from the NFL to the Simpsons, the network is defined by its programming breadth and not by our vertical concentration that is the hallmark of cable channels and it is this breadth the programming that makes the Fox broadcast network one of the top four channels across the country, week in and week out and such a strategic asset for Fox.

While the power of sports is undeniable. We are not looking to turn Fox into a pure play sports channel. We have a few of those already rather keeping the Fox Network vibrant and connected to our audiences is what we are constantly focused on it is why we are investing entertainment originality at the network at a time and broadcast originality and the scarcity value of reaching large audiences attracts a market premium across our revenue streams as was demonstrated by advertisers in the recent upfront. To that end, we are pursuing a strategy to expand our portfolio of owned content to generate long-term asset value for Fox we are being strategic and judicious building smartly and deliberately around our strengths. As part of the strategy we are pursuing a new program co-production model that gives us an equity interest in nearly all new shows aired on the network, we are enhancing our internal content creation capabilities to the launch of side cars [Phonetic], which is already providing third party platforms like [Indecipherable] with content and also through the acquisition we announced yesterday of Bento box [Phonetic] the animation company that produces Bob's burgers as well as two new Fox series Duncan Ville and the Great North.

Bento Box gives Fox access to the next generation of animators and the ability to originate owned IP to drive long-term value for the company. You need only to look at our Sunday broadcast schedule where we have launched more animated hits than anyone to know the animation has been the most stable Network Programming on Fox, Barr [Phonetic] none creating leverage loyalty and useful audiences across linear and digital properties. Beyond the network we are also focused on our direct to consumer initiatives Fox News continues to build a significant multi-platform presence well beyond the linear channel and has a strong position and direct to consumer News offerings. The Fox News digital properties attract over 100 million unique users per month and leads News engagement with over 3 billion page views per month.

We are expanding our D2C News capabilities by offering a more immersive video on demand service in the form of Fox Nation which was launched just this past November. On the sports front we launched pay-per-view boxing with the car see about in March we followed that with the [Indecipherable] just a few weeks ago and we're encouraged by the results as total purchases increased by more than 30% and direct purchases on the Fox Sports digital properties nearly doubled from the first pay-per-view event in aggregate, the Fox portfolio of digital properties generates a monthly audience of over 200 million unique people and nearly 10 billion minutes of content consumption. But our progress does not stop there. During the past few months and consistent with the strategy we outlined at our Investor Day, we've made key investments to expand the reach of our brands, beyond their traditional linear business models and deliver new and innovative products to our most valuable asset, our massive and massively engaged audience most notably in May Fox and The Stars Group announced plans to launch FOX Bet a national media and sports wagering partnership in the United States, we are on track to launch the Fox Bet product in the upcoming football season, or I should say, before the upcoming football season. And we see the opportunity in sports wagering as a long-term value contributor to Fox.

Earlier this week, we announced the entry into a definitive agreement to the proposed acquisition of 67% of credible labs, a leading direct-to-consumer personal finance marketplace in the United States at a price that we believe is full, fair and attractive on all relevant metrics including our commitment to provide up to $75 million of growth capital over the next two years.

The merger resulted from extensive discussions and negotiations with the special committee of independent directors and credible Board which has unanimously recommended the transaction. Through this prudent and disciplined investment, we will asses an adjacency to our numerous national and local news audiences and tap into a high growth market.

Just like our investment in the Stars Group for our Fox Bet offering through Fox Sports, the credible marketplace it's comfortably adjacent to enhances our core Fox digital properties, specifically those are Fox News media and our local television stations. Upon the approval of the credible deal, you will see us activate the credible marketplace across foxbusiness.com which we will be refreshing later this year and across the fast growing digital footprint of our Fox TV stations.

Over time, we expect to activate the marketplace across our wider digital network. We believe a given credible access to our highly engaged digital audience will accelerate the company's growth. It's also important to note that we plan to ensure that credible can continue to operate under its founder Stephen Dash, enabling it to continue to pursue the widest growth opportunity in the personal finance marketplace category.

From an operational standpoint, we're entering fiscal 2020 with great momentum. The Fox News Channel dominates the cable news landscape for 17 consecutive years as the number one cable news network and maintaining its position as the number one cable network in both prime time and total day viewing this past year.

Fox Sports led the industry in fiscal 2019 in the consumption of live sports events measured by minutes viewed beating second best CBS by 10%, ESPN by 13% and beating the combined viewing of ABC and NBC.

With our Thursday night and Sunday afternoon broadcast of the NFL, we are football's most significant broadcast partner. We have a great schedule for the upcoming season and we're confident we can build on last year's solid ratings growth.

our Fox Television Stations will continue their multi-year expansion of local news coverage and have collectively produced nearly 1,000 hours a week of news. This focus on local programming has led the station group to become number one in the locally programmed and high profitable daytime day part in our owned and operated markets.

We're also looking forward to the addition of 50 weeks of WWE Smack Down starting on October 4. A reinvigorated entertainment schedule built around the return of two seasons of The Masked Singer. Our own the fall sports lineup across the network and our sports channels, and of course the broadcast of Super Bowl 54 on Fox.

In support of our growth and as we noted during our Investor Day, we will continue to invest in our platforms in fiscal 2020, as we plan to deploy approximately $200 million to $250 million of EBITDA to the launch of the WWE, the Fox entertainment programming initiatives and to our digital properties, most notably at Fox News and Fox Business.

We are confident that these investments will serve to drive future growth and value in the long-term. We are excited by the growth trajectory that we have set for our businesses and are pleased with the progress we are making. We believe that Fox is uniquely positioned to harness the opportunities created by this changing industry with a dynamic portfolio of leadership brands and compelling content that audiences are most passionate about.

But before I turn it over to Steve, let me comment on the legal claim that we, along with the other broadcast networks filed against low cast last week, simply put low cast is a rogue streaming service violating the copyright laws for commercial gain, nothing more. Low cast claim to be a non-profit that is not operating for any direct or indirect commercial advantage is absurd. That operates for the clear commercial benefit of the corporations that support it.

I commented earlier on the importance to the company of our Fox Network and our owned and affiliated station group. We are confident in the merit of our claim against low cast. The low cast theft is, of course, a validation of the irreplaceable value of our brands and the content that they carry.

Now I will turn the call over to Steve to provide more detail on our financial results.

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Lachlan, and good afternoon. We are pleased with our first full fiscal quarter as a stand-alone company. As Lachlan mentioned, we delivered both healthy top line and EBITDA growth with this financial momentum and setting us up very well for fiscal 2020.

Let me now take you through our financial results for the fiscal year, as well as the fourth quarter along with providing some financial markets for the future. Our full year results. So total revenues grew 12% to $11.4 billion. Our revenue growth was broad-based with affiliate revenues increasing 12% led by retransmission revenue growth at the Television segment. Advertising revenue was up 10% on the back of our inaugural season of Thursday Night Football, which added five percentage points of advertising revenue growth coupled with the record year political advertising at our television stations. Within this advertising revenue growth, we are also encouraged with our digital progress. Digital advertising representing close to $500 million or 10% of total company advertising revenues.

Finally, we delivered strong growth in content revenue, which we record as part of our other revenue line supported by the digital licensing of network entertainment programming. Total full-year segment EBITDA was $2.7 billion, an increase of 8% from last year reflecting 8% growth at the Cable segment and 24% growth at the Television segment.

At this point, It is worth remembering that when looking at our full-year fiscal 2018 numbers, as well as the first three quarters of our fiscal 2019 results that these results have been prepared on a so-called carve out basis. As such, they include allocations of 21st Century Fox overhead and shared service costs in accordance with SEC guidance, which is we have said in the past and the state the costs required to support Fox as a stand-alone business.

We estimate that the total recurring costs beyond the amounts formula likely allocated to our published financial statements should range between $225 and $250 million on an annual basis. Illustratively if we took 75% of these incremental costs into account that would have reduced our fiscal 2019 EBITDA by approximately $180 million.

Net income attributable to stockholders was $1.6 billion this year or $2.57 a share, while adjusted EPS was $2.63 versus $2.50 last year. Again, both these absolute values in the year-on-year comparison are influenced by the differences in allocated shared services and overhead costs.

Turning to the fourth quarter, total company reported revenues were $2.5 billion, up 5% over last year reflecting revenue growth across all operating segments. Total segment EBITDA was $709 million, an 11% increase over the $640 million generated a year ago, led by higher contributions from the Television and Cable segments.

This growth was partially offset by high corporate expenses reported in the other segment, which now will properly reflect the full cost of operating as a stand-alone public company. From a bottom line perspective, net income attributable to stockholders of $450 million or $0.73 a share was lower than the $0.76 per share in the prior year quarter, while adjusted EPS of $0.62 was down 7% over the last year.

These reductions principally reflect increased interest and income tax expenses from our operating as a stand-alone public company. Our effective tax rate for the quarter was a touch above the more normalized mid 20% range. We expect to have going forward.

So now turning to the performance of our operating segments for the quarter. Well Cable Networks EBITDA of $602 million was up 4% on revenue growth of 2%. The revenue increase was led by affiliate fee growth of 3% supported by higher average rates across all our brands, partially offset by a net decrease in pay television subscribers. Ad revenues decreased slightly by 1% reflecting lower contributions from the Women's FIFA World Cup in the current year as compared to the men's tournament in the prior year.

The ad revenue decrease at the National Sports Networks was partially offset by the continued strength of Fox News led by digital and advertising.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Are on track to launch the FOX BET product in the upcoming football season, or I should say, before the upcoming football season and we see the opportunity and sports wagering as a long-term value contributor to Fox

Earlier this week we announced the entry into a definitive agreement to the proposed acquisition of 67% of credible, a leading direct to consumer personal finance marketplace in the United States at a price that we believe is full fair and attractive on all relevant metrics including our commitment to provide up to $75 million growth capital over the next few years.

The merger resulted from extensive discussions and negotiations with the special committee of independent directors credible Board which has unanimously recommended the transaction, through this prudent and disciplined investment. We will, access an adjacency to our numerous national and local news audiences and tap into a high growth market.

Just like our investment in the Stars Group for our FOX BET offering through FOX Sports the credible marketplace it's comfortably adjacent to enhances our core Fox digital properties specifically those of Fox News media and our local television stations upon the approval of the credible deal, you will see us activate the credible marketplace across Fox Business.com which we will be refreshing later this year and across the fast growing digital footprint of our Fox TV stations, over time we expect to activate the marketplace across our wider digital network we believe that given credible access to our highly engaged digital audience will accelerate the company's growth.

It's also important to note that we plan to ensure that credible can continue to operate under its founder [Indecipherable] enabling it to continue to pursue the widest growth opportunity in the personal finance marketplace category.

From an operational standpoint we're entering fiscal 2020 with great momentum. The Fox News Channel dominates the cable news landscape parking 17 consecutive years as the number one cable news network and maintaining its position as the number one cable network in both prime time and total day viewing this past year.

FOX SPORTS led the industry in fiscal 2019 in the consumption of live sports events measured by minutes viewed meeting second best CBS [Phonetic] by 10%, ESPN by 13% and beating the combined viewing of [Indecipherable] and NBC. With Thursday night and Sunday afternoon broadcast of the NFL. We are football's most significant broadcast partner.

We have a great schedule for the upcoming season and we're confident we can build on last year's solid ratings growth. our FOX Television Stations will continue their multi-year expansion of local news coverage and will collectively produced nearly 1,000 hours a week of news this focus on local programing has led the station group to become number one in the locally Programmed and highly profitable daytime daypart in our owned and operated markets

we're also looking forward to the addition of 50 weeks of WWE smack down starting on October 4 a reinvigorated entertainment schedule built around the return of two seasons of the math Singer our own the fall sports lineup across the network and our sports channels and of course the broadcast of Super Bowl 54 on Fox.

In support of our growth and as we noted during our Investor Day, we will continue to invest in our platforms in fiscal 2020, as we plan to deploy approximately 250 million of EBITDA to the launch of the WWE the Fox entertainment programming initiatives and to our digital properties, most notably at Fox News and FOX Business.

We are confident that these investments will serve to drive future growth. And value in the long term. We are excited by the growth trajectory that we have set for our businesses and are pleased with the progress we are making.

We believe that Fox is uniquely positioned to harness the opportunities created by this changing industry with a dynamic portfolio of leadership brands and compelling content that audiences are most-passionate about.

But before I turn it over to Steve, let me comment on the legal claim that we, along with the other broadcast networks filed against low caste last week simply put low cast is a rogue streaming service violating the copyright laws for commercial gain nothing more low cash claim to be a non-profit that is not operating for any direct or indirect commercial advantage is absurd.

That operates for the clear commercial benefit of the corporations that support it. I commented earlier on the importance to the company of our Fox Network and our owned and affiliated station group. We are confident in the merits of our claim against low caste.

The low caste theft is of course a validation of the irreplaceable value of our brands. And the content that they carry now I will turn the call over to Steve to provide more detail on our financial results .

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Lachlan, and good afternoon. We are pleased with our first full fiscal quarter as a stand-alone company as Lachlan mentioned we delivered both healthy top line and EBITDA growth with this financial momentum, setting us up very well for fiscal 2020 let me now take you through our financial results for the fiscal year, as well as the fourth quarter along with providing some financial markets for the future.

Our full year results. So total revenues grew 12% to $11.4 billion. Our revenue growth was broad based with affiliate revenues increasing 12% led by retransmission revenue growth at the Television segment advertising revenue was up 10% on the back of our inaugural season of Thursday Night Football, which added 5% points of advertising revenue growth coupled with the record year political advertising at our television stations within this advertising revenue growth. We are also encouraged with our digital progress digital advertising representing close to $500 million or 10% of total company advertising revenues.

Finally, we delivered strong growth in content revenue which we record as part of our other revenue line supported by the digital licensing of network entertainment programming, total full year segment EBITDA was $2.7 billion, an increase of 8% from last year, reflecting a 8% growth at the Cable segment in 24% growth at the Television segment.

At this point, It is worth remembering that when looking at our full-year fiscal 2018 numbers as well as the first three quarters of our fiscal 2019 results that these results have been prepared on a so-called carve out basis. As such, they include allocations of 21st Century Fox overhead and shared service costs in accordance with SEC guidance, which as we have said in the past and the state the costs required to support Fox is a stand-alone basis.

We estimate that the total recurring costs beyond the amounts formula likely allocated to our published financial statements should range between $225 and $250 million on an annual basis. Illustratively if we took 75% of these incremental costs into account that would have reduced our fiscal 2019 EBITDA by approximately $180 million.

Net income attributable to stockholders was $1.6 billion this year or $2.57 a share, while adjusted EPS was $2.63 versus $2.50 last year. Again, both these absolute values in the year-on-year comparison are influenced by the differences in allocated shared services and overhead costs.

Turning to the fourth quarter, total company reported revenues were $2.5 billion, up 5% over last year, reflecting revenue growth across all operating segments. Total segment EBITDA was $709 million, an 11% increase over the $640 million generated a year ago, led by higher contributions from the Television in cable segments.

This growth was partially offset by higher corporate expenses, reported in the Other segment, which Namal [Phonetic] properly reflect the full cost of operating as a stand-alone public company. From a bottom line perspective, Net income attributable to stockholders of $450 million or $0.73 a share was lower than the $0.76 per share in the prior year quarter, while adjusted EPS of $0.62 was down 7% over the last year.

These reductions principally reflect increased interest and income tax expenses from our operating as a stand-alone public company. Our effective tax rate for the quarter was a touch above the more normalized mid 20% range. We expect to have going forward. So. Now turning to the performance of our operating segments.

For the quarter. We're cable networks. EBITDA of $602 million was up 4% on revenue growth of 2% the revenue increase was led by affiliate fee growth of 3% supported by higher average rates across all our brands, partially offset by a net decrease in pay television subscribers ad revenues decreased slightly by 1% reflecting lower contributions from the women's FIFA World Cup in the current year as compared to the men's tournament in the prior year.

The ad revenue decrease at the national sports networks was partially offset by the continued strength of Fox News led by digital and advertising growth. EBITDA at our Cable segment increased 4% over the prior year, reflecting the higher revenues and a stable cost base as digital investments at Fox News were offset by lower sports rights expenses related to the FIFA World Cup and the absence of UFC programming in the current year quarter. At the Television segment EBITDA was $214 million, an increase of $103 million from the prior year quarter, reflecting revenue growth of 5% and expense declines of 4%.

The revenue growth was led by an 18% increase in affiliate revenue growth, which in turn was driven by programming fee growth from non-owned station affiliates. This growth is consistent with the overall TV affiliate revenue trajectory we laid out at our Investor Day in May, where we expect to deliver revenues of approximately $2.65 billion by calendar year 2022. In line with our expectations, advertising revenues in the quarter were down by 8% reflecting difficult comparisons to the quarter a year ago, which included political revenues at the local stations related to the 2018 midterm elections, and more FIFA World Cup matches.

When doing the segment as a whole, the advertising revenue decline was substantially offset by increased digital content licensing revenues. The decrease in expenses reflects lower sports rights resulting from fewer FIFA World Cup matches in NASCAR races in the quarter, as well as lower entertainment programming costs due to fewer hours of original programming in the current quarter.

The strong overall P&L results generated free cash flow, which we calculate as net cash provided by operating activities, less cash invested in property, plant and equipment of over $800 million in this quarter and $2.3 billion for the year, representing a 115% and 85% conversion of EBITDA to free cash flow respectively.

And finally, from an overall balance sheet perspective, we ended the quarter with $3.2 billion in cash and $6.8 billion in debt.

Looking ahead into fiscal 2020. There are few key items I would draw your attention to, many of which we had previously outlined at our Investor Day. Firstly, Lachlan has already outlined the targeted set of initiatives that will impact EBITDA in fiscal 2020. In addition, it is also worth remembering the changes in our major broadcast events that will affect year-on-year comparability. The single largest being our broadcast of Super Bowl 54 in February, which from a year-over-year EBITDA perspective. We're largely being neutralized by the combined effects of other cyclical events such as an off-cycle political year, one less NFC divisional playoff game and the absence of the FIFA World Cup.

As we look at the cadence of fiscal 2020, we would note that our Q2 P&L results this coming year will be impacted by higher sports expenses of the network reflecting the contractual annual escalators on the NFL and college football contracts, and the addition of WWE rights, as well as lower political advertising revenue at our local television stations when compared to the prior year.

Looking across our group wide other revenue category, we expect to post solid revenue growth in our Cable and other segment supported by the increase in Fox Nation subscription revenues. The expansion of our pay-per-view boxing business, growth in content revenues and a full year of revenues associated with operating our L.A. Law [Phonetic].

Meanwhile, these gains will be at least partially offset by reductions in other revenue in our Television segment. As we have previously disclosed, we expect shared services and corporate expenses reported in the other Other segment to increase significantly as we will be operating as a stand-alone public company for the full-year as compared to only one quarter in fiscal 2019.

On a full-fiscal year basis, we expect the Other segment to be a net EBITDA cost in the mid to high $300 million range . This includes a little over $50 million of stock-based compensation expense associated with the initial shareholder alignment plan award, which will temporarily impact our P&L in fiscal 2020 and 2021. From a cash flow standpoint, we expect very robust conversion of EBITDA to free cash flow. Here, we expect very low working capital usage and cash tax savings of approximately $370 million resulting from the tax basis step up obtained as a result of the Fox Corp spin. While our capital expenditure will increase to fund the build of our new Broadcast Center in Phoenix .

Before concluding I'd like to reiterate that we remain committed to a balanced capital allocation strategy, balancing between organic investment, strategic M&A and shareholder returns of capital. As part of this strategy, you will have seen that we just declared our second semi-annual dividend of $0.23 a share and continue to expect to have a share buyback authorization in place in advance of our annual shareholder meeting in November.

And with that, I'll turn the call back to Joe.

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

Thanks, Steve. Now operator, we'd be happy to take questions from the investment community.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you, sir. [Operator Instructions]. We first turn to the line of Michael Nathanson with MoffettNathanson. Please go ahead, your line is open.

Michael Nathanson -- MoffettNathanson -- Analyst

Thank you. I'll ask one to John or Steve.

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

That's easy.

Michael Nathanson -- MoffettNathanson -- Analyst

Okay, I'll feel awful.

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

I can make him hard.

Michael Nathanson -- MoffettNathanson -- Analyst

Okay. I'll give you two then, I was trying to be kind. So the first question is, when you look at the cadence of affiliate fee growth, a cable, it decelerated from 13 to 11, to 4 to 3. And the questions people have new companies what drove that deceleration. And when you look ahead some new fiscal year, what's the cadence of 38% of the new deals coming due to maybe reaccelerate that growth. So that's one. Now Lachlan to you is, I get the benchmarks acquisition, but why is credible good fit for you, like what expertise you bring to it, that perhaps we're missing from the outside?

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Right. I'm not sure you'll start with Steve and then --

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So, Michael on cables, I think as we mentioned at the Investor Day, the way we see affiliate, we see it in the round. So the split between Cable and Television is less relevant to us because we negotiate all the contracts in one bulk Group. And so we would, we finished Q4 versus Q4 was a plus 7% growth rate across the whole estate. And so we would anticipate that sort of growth rate at that level or above into fiscal 2020. The reason why Cable has sort of reduced sequentially over the quarters through the fiscal year, it just comes to just lapping deal maturities. And so as we go into new deals, the focus obviously will be getting fair -- a greater share of fair value on our retrans, so you will see a disproportionate level of the forward growth still being with in the Television segment as opposed to the Cable segment.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Great. And then on credible and I'm happy to talk about it. We as a management team are very excited, extraordinarily excited about the opportunity . The credible affords us. We look at it and I think we've talked about this at the Investor Day. And since our key assets is not -- our skill set necessarily in selling advertising or selling affiliate revenue. Although our teams are extraordinarily good at that, and those are businesses that as you've seen in these results are performing extraordinarily well. But really our key asset, our key resource is the deep engagement that we have in News and in Sport and Entertainment with our audiences. And as we grow our digital platforms out, we are seeing that engagement really importantly and critically extend from a linear and analogue environment to a direct digital environment, which affords us the ability to monetize that engagement in new models.

So that really led us earlier this year to The Stars Group where we decided with Sports obviously entering the sports gaming market was a tremendous. We see as a huge long-term opportunity for us and the correlation between obviously the sports audience and this is should be obvious to most people between the sports audience and the sports betting audience is extraordinarily high correlation. And so you could say getting into the sports betting arena is a no-brainer. Well, it's equally a no-brainer with credible in the news category.

Operator

Thank you, sir. [Operator Instructions]. We first turn to the line of Michael Nathanson with MoffettNathanson. Please go ahead, your line is open.

Michael Nathanson -- MoffettNathanson -- Analyst

Thank you. I'll ask 1 to Doe or Steve.

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

Make them hard.

Michael Nathanson -- MoffettNathanson -- Analyst

Okay. I'll give you two then. So the first question is when you look at the cadence of affiliate fee growth, a cable, it decelerated from 13 to 11 to for us to my question. People have new company is what drove that deceleration. And when you look ahead some new fiscal year. What's the cadence of 38% of the new deals coming due to maybe we accelerate that growth. So that's one.

Now Lachlan to you is I get the benchmarks acquisition but why it is wise credible in good stead for you, like what equities you bring to it. That perhaps we're missing from the outside.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Right. [Indecipherable] answer you will start with us with Steve and then.

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

Okay. Michael and I think as we mentioned at the Investor Day, the way we see affiliate. We see it in the round. So the split between cable and Television the is less relevant to us because we negotiate all the contracts in one bulk Group. And so we would, we finished Q4 versus Q4 was a plus 7% growth rate across the whole estate. And so we would anticipate that sort of growth rate at that level or above into fiscal 2020. The reason why cable has sort of reduced sequentially over the quarters through the fiscal year just comps to just lapping deal and maturities. And so as we go into new deals to focus obviously will be getting fair a greater share of fair value on our retrans, so you will see a disproportionate level of the forward growth still being with in the Television segment as opposed to the cable segment.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Great. And then on incredible and happy to talk about it. We as a management team, are very excited extraordinarily excited about the opportunity . Incredible affords us, we look at it and I think we've talked about this at the Investor Day. And since our key assets is not our skill set necessarily in selling advertising selling affiliate revenue , although our teams are extraordinarily good at that, and those are businesses that as you've seen in these results are performing extraordinarily well. But really our key asset our key resource is the deep engagement that we have in News and in Sport and Entertainment with our audiences and as we grow our digital platforms out. We are seeing that that engagement really importantly and and critically extend from a linear and analog environment to a a direct digital environment which affords us the ability to monetize that engagement in new models.

So that really led us earlier this year to The Stars Group where we decided with Sports obviously entering the sports gaming market was a tremendous we see is a huge our long-term opportunity for us and the correlation between obviously the sports audience and this is should be obvious to most people between the sports audience in the sports betting audience is an extraordinary high correlation. And so you could say getting into the sports betting arena is a no-brainer. While it's equally a no-brainer with credible in the news, our category, if you

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

growth EBITDA at our Cable segment increased 4% over the prior year, reflecting the higher revenues and a stable cost base as digital investments at Fox News were offset by lower sports rights expenses related to the FIFA World Cup and the absence of UFC programing in the current year quarter. At the Television segment EBITDA was $214 million, an increase of $103 million from the prior year quarter, reflecting revenue growth of 5% and expense declines of 4%.

The revenue growth was led by an 18% increase in affiliate revenue growth, which in turn was driven by programming fee growth from non-owned station affiliates this growth is consistent with the overall TV affiliate revenue trajectory we laid out at our Investor Day in May, where we expect to deliver revenues of approximately $2.65 billion by calendar year 2022. In line with our expectations advertising revenues in the quarter were down by 8% reflecting difficult comparisons to the quarter a year ago, which included political revenues at the local stations related to the 2018 midterm elections, and more FIFA World Cup matches.

When during the segment as a whole, the advertising revenue decline was substantially offset by increased digital content licensing revenues. The decrease in expenses reflects lower sports rights resulting from fewer FIFA World Cup matches in NASCAR races in the quarter as well as lower entertainment programing costs due to fewer hours of original programing in the current quarter.

These strong overall P&L results generated free cash flow, which we calculate as net cash provided by operating activities less cash invested in property, plant and equipment of over $800 million in this quarter and $2.3 billion for the year, representing a 115% and 85% conversion of EBITDA to free cash flow respectively. And finally, from an overall balance sheet perspective, we ended the quarter with $3.2 billion in cash and $6.8 billion in debt.

Looking ahead into fiscal 2020. There are few key items I would draw your attention to many of which we had previously outlined at our Investor Day firstly Lachlan has already outlined the targeted set of initiatives that will impact EBITDA in fiscal 2020. In addition, it is also worth remembering the changes in our major broadcast events that will affect year-on-year comparability. The single largest being our broadcast of Super Bowl 54 in February, which from a year-over-year EBITDA perspective. We will largely be neutralized by the combined effects of other cyclical events such as an off-cycle political year one less NFC divisional playoff game and the absence of the FIFA World Cup.

As we look at the cadence of fiscal 2020 we would note that our Q2 P&L results this coming year will be impacted by higher sports expenses, the network reflecting the contractual annual escalators on the NFL and college football contracts and the addition of WWE rights as well as lower political advertising revenue at our local television stations when compared to the prior year.

Looking across our Group wide other revenue category. We expect to post solid revenue growth in our Cable and Other segment, supported by the increase in Fox Nation subscription revenues. The expansion of our pay-per-view boxing business growth in content revenues and a full year of revenues associated with operating our LA Law [Phonetic].

Meanwhile, these gains will be at least partially offset by reductions in other revenue in our Television segment as we have previously disclosed, we expect shared services and corporate expenses, reported in the other Other segment to increase significantly as we will be operating as a stand-alone public company. For the full year as compared to only one quarter in fiscal 2019.

On a full fiscal year basis, we expect the Other segment to be a net EBITDA cost in the mid to high $300 million range . This includes a little over $50 million of stock-based compensation expense associated with the initial shareholder alignment plan award, which will temporarily impact our P&L in fiscal 2020 and 2021, from a cash flow standpoint, we expect very robust conversion of EBITDA to free cash flow here, we expect very low working capital usage and cash tax savings of approximately $370 million resulting from the tax basis step up obtained as a result of the Fox Corp spin, while our capital expenditure will increase to fund the build of our new Broadcast Center in Phoenix .

Before concluding I'd like to reiterate that we remain committed to a balanced capital allocation strategy, balancing between organic investment strategic M&A and shareholder returns of capital as part of this strategy, you will have seen that we just declared our second semi-annual dividend of $0.23 a share and continue to expect to have a share buyback authorization in place in advance of our annual shareholder meeting in November.

And with that I'll turn the call back to Joe.

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

Thanks, Steve. Now, operator, we'd be happy to take questions from the investment community.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

look, and we've done a huge amount of research and due diligence on this over the last couple of months. If you look at our news audience and I'm not just talking on our cable news, but importantly the nearly 1,000 hours of local news that we produce each week. If you look at that audience it correlates incredibly highly with credibles target audience for their financial marketplace. Our audience and news, which is natural, our skews are slightly older, it skews toward homeowners and it skews toward an educated audience. And these are all factors that people are searching for mortgages in particular and refinancing loans, skew heavily toward. And so when we saw credible and we can see that by combining their service with our audience and our digital platforms, first with Fox Business and then later through our other news platforms. We see a tremendous opportunity for it going forward. Next question.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Ben Swinburne with Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.

Ben Swinburne -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Thank you. Hello. Lachlan, I wanted to come back to the comment you made around digital advertising at $500 million growing healthily, can you give us a little more color on what is that business, how much of it maybe video versus display, how sustainable you see that growth rate being especially as you head into what will be a political and elevated political year next year because obviously that helps sort of insulate the overall ad business to grow across the company. And I just wanted to ask if you had any update for us on the process in evaluating the buyback plans. As you know, that's a big focus for investors, particularly in the back of some of the acquisitions you've announced?

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

On the digital advertising front, we're very pleased with its growth. We think we can aggressively push it even further. If you look at that, it's over 200 million unique users of our digital products, and as I mentioned sort of 10 billion views. If I take for instance just at foxnews.com, we are now often doing over 100 million page views per day. I mean, yesterday we did 90 million page views in a day, which was a slow day for us then. But we certainly think we can monetize those pages, we've built out the sites and the content more aggressively and faster than we've built out our monetization of those views. So we expect to push in further.

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

And then just to pick up on that it's a pretty good spread where we get our digital advertising revenue from across Fox News on the entertainment side of things, both directly and by Hulu digital video views as well as FX go. So it's a good spread from where we get it from, but we think that sort of the front of the tip of the spear in terms of growth continue to be Fox News going forward.

John Nallen -- Chief Operating Officer

And Ben, it's John. On the question on the buyback, as we said at the Investor Day, the independents are spending time with their advisors. We expect as we did then that there will be a conclusion, and an announcement around the buyback framework just around the time of our Annual General Meeting, there has been no change to that timetable.

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

Operator, can we go to the next question.

Operator

Next, we turn to the line of Jessica Reif Ehrlich with Bank of America. Please go ahead.

Jessica Reif Ehrlich -- Bank of America -- Analyst

So, on advertising. Lachlan very helpful to get that color on how you did in the upfront, it's it so strong. What are the drivers besides lack of ratings in the industry in general. And can you talk a little bit about how you're selling differently with everything under Marianne's umbrella, is everything cross platform now. And then on the gaming, can you give us some color, fact just to consider and how this will ramp, is it all dependent on state by state legislation, what else will drive it, how quickly can you ramp? Thank you.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Jessica. So on advertising, like we estimate this is the strongest advertising upfront in 17 years. So it's an extraordinarily robust result we've had certainly in both pricing and in volume, pleasingly the scatter market since the upfront has been even stronger. And we are in scatter doing double digits pricing premiums to what we sold in the upfront, so which means if you do the math, we're in the low 20s pricing in scatter over last year. So, and this is driven really across categories. So it's not one category that's driving it. We're seeing obviously the streaming platforms, we'll start to take their advertising digital platforms, pharmaceutical continues to be strong. They had a short pause as they work out some regulatory demands around the advertising, so they weren't initially -- they were slow in the upfront and then came back in strong and they're particularly strong in scatter now pharmaceutical, finance has been strong. And even now locally and this goes, partially to your second question on a state by state basis in a couple of our local stations are notably, New York and Philadelphia we are seeing some of this gaming, our revenue begin to appear in a fairly significant way.

So we think from a gaming point of view as more states legalize online gambling that we have a tremendous revenue stream to us outside of the TSG partnership, but just from a local advertising point of view. Also obviously, and the Super Bowl, we'll start to sell the Super Bowl and we're very pleased with the Super Bowl, both in our pricing point of view in terms of where we are versus our last Super Bowl a few years ago. Then, your second question, I guess it was on gaming and the TSG partnership, Steve do you want to --?

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

I think the ramp of it Jessica really dependent on the state by state legislation and having that open up and liberalized. And so that really drives the actual sort of operationalization of that within the joint venture in terms of opening up that state access. But in the meantime, we obviously have a partnership with brand royalty, all the rest of will have a modest positive impact on our P&L through the course of this year.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

I should say one of the things we're going to do is, as mentioned before the football season begins. We'll be launching a national free to play game which is legal across the country in every state, but certainly will help to put the brand out there and to begin to establish the business.

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

Can we go to the next question please.

Operator

And next, we turn to the line of Doug Mitchelson with Credit Suisse. Please go ahead.

Doug Mitchelson -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Thanks so much. Steve, you mentioned very robust free cash flow and you also mentioned 85% conversion for the full-year last year. Should we take that 85% to be consistent with very robust? And Lachlan, John, Fox Nation has come up a few times on this call and I think it was mentioned that growth in subscriptions was a driver, any context you can give us around sort of size and scale that business where you think you can get it to and as subscription subscribers is that the right metrics we should be looking at?

John Nallen -- Chief Operating Officer

Thanks, Doug. So on free cash flow, I think 85% probably a bit choppy from what we expect to convert this, the current fiscal year we're in. And the thing that will be a bit of a drag versus where we've been over the last quarter has been essentially the build out of the Phoenix Broadcast Center, which I think I said at the Investor Day, we expect capex to be sort of low to mid single-digits of revenue and this will put us at the sort of the higher end of that.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Our Fox Nation is performing really very well, it is still early days, having launched only this past November. But as a subscription video-on-demand service, certainly subscription is the first part of that name and so it's clearly a metric subscribers that we are watching closely. We haven't really spent any external marketing dollars on it and the assumption that we will spend an appropriate amount of external marketing is within the EBITDA investment that Steve has spoken about earlier and that will begin in the fall. The pleasing thing is, is that the conversion rate to trial less [Phonetic] to paid subscribers is extraordinarily high. And if we can maintain that conversion rate widening the funnel of trial less in the fall, it will be extremely successful business.

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

Thank you. Can we go to the next line.

Operator

And next, we turn to the line of Marci Ryvicker with Wolfe Research. Please

Unidentified Speaker

Look, and we've done a huge amount of our research and due diligence on this over the last couple of months. If you look at our news audience and I'm not just talking I'm cable news, but importantly the nearly 1,000 hours of local news that we produce each week. If you look at that audience it correlates incredibly highly with credibles target audience for their financial marketplace. Our audience and news, which is natural our skews are slightly older it skews toward homeowners and skews toward an educated audience and these are all factors that people are searching for mortgages in particular and refinancing loans skew heavily toward. And so when we saw credible and we can see that by combining their service with our audience and our digital platforms first with Fox Business and then later through our other news platforms we see a tremendous opportunity for it going forward. Next question.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Ben Swinburne with Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.

Ben Swinburne -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Thank you. Hello. Lachlan. I wanted to come back to the comment you made around digital advertising at $500 million growing healthily, can you give us a little more color on what is that business, how much of it will be video versus display how sustainable you see that growth rate being especially as you head into what will be a political and elevated political year next year because obviously that helps sort of insulate the overall ad business to grow across the company and I just wanted to ask if you had any update for us on the process in evaluating the buyback plans. As you know, that's a big focus for investors, particularly in the back of some of the acquisitions you've announced?

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

On the digital advertising front, we're very pleased with its growth. We think we can aggressively push it even further. If you look at that, it's over 200 million unique users of our digital products. And as I mentioned sort of 10 billion views. If I take for instance just at foxnews.com. We are now often doing over 100 million page views per day. I mean, yesterday we did 90 million page views in a day, which was a slow day for us then, but we certainly think we can monetize those pages, we've built out the sites and the content more aggressively and faster than we've built out our monetization of those views. So we expect to push further.

Unidentified Speaker

And then just to pick up on that it's a pretty good spread where we get our digital advertising revenue from across Fox News on the entertainment side of things, both directly and by Hulu digital video views as well as FX. So it's a good spread from where we get it from, but we think that sort of the front of the tip of the spear in terms of growth continue to be Fox News going forward.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

And then as John on the question on the buyback, the, as we said at the Investor Day, the independents are spending time with their advisors. We expect as we did then that there'll be a conclusion, and an announcement around the buyback framework just around the time of our Annual General Meeting, there has been no change to that time period.

Operator, can we go to the next question.

Operator

Next, we turn to the line of Jessica Reif Ehrlich with Bank of America. Please go ahead.

Jessica Reif Ehrlich -- Bank of America -- Analyst

So, on advertising. Lachlan very helpful to get that color on how you did in the upfront it so strong. What are the drivers besides lack of ratings in the industry in general. Can you talk a little bit of a how you're selling differently with everything on [Indecipherable] umbrella as everything cross platform now. And then on the gaming can you give us some color factors to consider. And how this will ramp is it all dependent on state by state legislation. What else will drive it, how quickly can you ramp? Thank you.

Unidentified Speaker

Thank you, Jessica. So on advertising, we estimate this is the strongest advertising upfront in 17 years. So it's an extraordinarily robust result we've had certainly in both pricing and in volume. Pleasingly the scatter market since the upfront has been even stronger. And we are in scatter doing double digits pricing premiums to what we sold in the upfront, so which means if you do the math, we're in the low '20s pricing in scatter over last year. So, and this is driven really across categories. So it's not one category that's driving it and driving it. We're seeing obviously the streaming platforms we're start to take their at advertising digital platforms, pharmaceutical continues to be strong. They had a short pause as they work out some regulatory demands around the advertising so they weren't initially there were slow in the upfront and then came back and strong and the particularly strong then scatter now pharmaceutical finance has been strong and even now locally and this goes, partially to your second question on a state by state basis in a couple of our local stations are notably, New York and Philadelphia.

We are seeing some of the gaming our revenue begin to begin to appear in a fairly significant way. So we think from a gaming point of view as more states legalize online gambling that we have a tremendous revenue stream to us. Outside of the TSG partnership, but just from a local advertising point of view. Also obviously, and the Super Bowl we start to sell the Super Bowl and we're very pleased with the Super Bowl, both in our pricing point of view in terms of where we are versus our last Super Bowl a few years ago. Then, your second question, guess it was on was on gaming and the TSG partnership Steve?

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

I think the ramp of Jessica really dependent on the state by state legislation and having that open Apple liberalized and so that really drives the actual sort of operationalization of that within the joint venture. In terms of opening up that state access but in the meantime, we obviously have a partnership with brand royalty, all the rest of will have a modest positive impact on our P&L through the course of this year.

Unidentified Speaker

I should say one of the things we're going to do is, as mentioned before of the football season begins . We'll be launching a national free to play game which is legal across the country, in every state, but certainly will help to to put the brand out there and to begin to establish the business. Can we go to the next question please.

Operator

And next, we turn to the line of Doug Mitchelson with Credit Suisse. Please go ahead.

Doug Mitchelson -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Thanks so much. You, Steve, you mentioned very robust free cash flow and you also mentioned 85% conversion for the full year last year. Should we take that 85% to be consistent with very robust and then Lachlan, John Fox Nation has come up a few times on this call and I think it was mentioned that growth in subscriptions was a driver, any context, you can give us around sort of size and scale that business where you think you can get it to and subscription subscribers is that the right metrics we should be looking at?

Unidentified Speaker

Thanks, Doug. Some free cash flow. And I think 85%, probably a bit choppy from what we expect to convert this, the current fiscal year we're in. And the thing that will be a bit of a drag versus where we've been over the last quarter has been essentially the build out of the Phoenix Broadcast Centre, which I think I said at the Investor Day we expect capex to be sort of low to mid single digits of revenue and this will put us at the sort of the higher end of that.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

On Fox Nation Fox Nation is performing really very well, it is still early days, having launched only this past November. But as a subscription video on demand service certainly subscription is the first part of that name and. And so, it's clearly a metric subscribers that we are watching closely. We haven't really spent any external marketing dollars on it and the assumption that we will spend an appropriate amount of external marketing is within the EBITDA investment at the Steve has spoken about our earlier and that will begin in the fall with the pleasing thing is, is that the conversion rate to try less to paid subscribers is extraordinarily high and and if we can maintain that conversion rate widening the funnel of trial in the fall. It will be extremely successful business. Thank you. Can we go to the next line.

Operator

And next, we turn to the line of Marci Ryvicker with Wolfe Research. Please go ahead.

Marci Ryvicker -- Wolfe Research

Thanks, I have two questions. Lachlan you brought up low cast. So I just want to ask you, can you walk us through the timeline. Now that this is filed. What's next? And then, I understand the permanent injunction was requested not a temporary one, I was just curious as to why that was?

And then second, for Steve with your capital allocation policy. Is there a certain percent of free cash flow that you're sort of setting aside each year specifically allocated to M&A or is what you're investing in truly just opportunistic as things come up? Thanks.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you very much, Marci. And I'll turn it over to Steve for your second question. On low cast. I am -- I fleshed out as much as I could. What I can say in my kind of prepared comments and I hope I was punchy enough as I tried to be. But on legal advice and seeing at this case is now sort of before the courts, I'm better off not to add anything to those comments. Steve?

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

And Marcy just on capital allocation. We're going to stay flexible. We will be balanced, but we're not going to have a strict percentage of free cash flow that's dedicated to M&A. We'll be looking at, we'll assess opportunities across organic M&A and also best use of capital in terms of returning an amount to shareholders and sort of review that periodically better the notion that we would dedicate the X percent of our free cash flow, it's not the way we'd operate.

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

Thank you. Operator, we have time for one more question.

Operator

Thank you, sir. And our final question comes from the line of Alexia Quadrani with JPMorgan. Please go ahead.

Alexia Quadrani -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Thank you so much. Lachlan, if you could maybe talk generally about the soft ratings that we've seen in the news network business, really the last couple of months, not just obviously Fox but just across the industry, what you attribute it to is it news fatigue? And I guess how quickly do you think it can turnaround. And then on the subscriber side . I'm sorry if I missed it, but if you gave a sub decline number and maybe a little color and how different these negotiations are, now that you don't have the RSMs[Phonetic].

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

I'll answer the last part first, which is the easier. But starting from the beginning, new ratings are softer when you compare them year-on-year. Historically, though, I think they are still incredibly high. We are an extraordinary new cycle. And so Fox News has lost less ratings or the less audience are relative to our competitors. And so we continue to be obviously number one and expect to continue that run for quite some time.

I do think though there probably is some news fatigue, but you also remember this time last year we were also in an extraordinary new cycle. We are incredibly pleased that the hard work of the people at Fox News has continued to keep not only their prime time lineup. But their all day, our ratings in the position that they are, even despite having some talent shake up. So we are really pleased with the performance of Fox News.

In terms of our sub declines. Overall, we're seeing about a 1% subject aggregate, subject clients, so that includes our kind of growing sort of smaller networks such as Fox Sports 2 and BTN. So we're down in aggregate numbers of subscribers, just about 1%. But if we at the market and we have to sort of make estimates. If we look at our subscriber universe inclusive of the growth of the digital MVPDs, we think the market is down around close to 3%.

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

At this point, we're out of time. Thank you everybody for joining today's call. If you have any further questions, please give Dan Carey or me a call. Thank you.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for using AT&T Executive Teleconference. You may now disconnect. go ahead.

Analyst

Thanks, I have two questions. Lachlan you brought up low cast. So I just want to ask you, can you walk us through the timeline. Now that this is filed. What's next. And then, I understand the permanent injunction was requested not a temporary one, I was just curious as to why that was.

And then second for Steve with their capital allocation policy. Is there a certain percent of free cash flow that you're sort of setting aside each year specifically allocated to M&A or is what you're investing in truly just opportunistic as things come up. Thanks.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you very much, Marcy [Phonetic] and I'll turn it over to Steve for your second question. On low cast. I am -- I fleshed out as much as I could. What I can say in my kind of prepared comments and I hope I was punchy enough I tried I tried to be but on legal advice and seeing at the this case is now sort of before the courts better off not to add anything to those comments. -- Steve

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

And Marcy just on capital allocation. We're going to stay flexible. We will be balanced, but we're not going to have a strict percentage of free cash flow that's dedicated to M&A will be looking at, we'll assess opportunities across organic M&A and also best use of capital in terms of returning an amount to shareholders and sort of review that periodically better the notion that we would dedicate X percent of our free cash flow, it's not the way we operate.

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, operator. We have time for one more question.

Operator

Thank you, sir. And our final question comes from the line of Alexia Quadrani with JPMorgan. Please go ahead.

Alexia Quadrani -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Thank you so much. Lachlan, if you could maybe talk generally about the soft ratings that we've seen in the news network business, really the last couple of months, not just obviously Fox but just across the industry what you attribute it to as it News fatigue. And I guess how quickly do you think it can turnaround. And then on the subscriber side . I'm sorry if I missed it, but if you gave us some decline number and maybe a little color and how different these negotiations are now they going to be [Indecipherable].

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

I'll answer the last part first, which is the easier but but the limited but starting from the beginning. New news ratings are software when you compare them year-on-year. Historically, though, I think they are still incredibly high we are and extraordinary new cycle and so Fox News has lost less ratings are less audience our relative to our competitors. And so we continue to be obviously number one and and expect to continue that run for quite some time. I do think though there probably is some new strategic, but I just remember this time last year we were also in an extraordinary new cycle we are incredibly pleased that the hard work of the people at Fox News has continue to keep not only their primetime lineup. But, they're all day. Our ratings in the position that they are even despite having some talent shake up. So we are really pleased with the performance of Fox News.

In terms of our sub declines. Overall, we're seeing about a 1% subject aggregate so that includes our kind of growing sort of smaller networks such as Fox Sports 2 and VTN so were down in aggregate numbers of subscribers, just about 1%. But if we, if we look at the market and we have to sort of make estimates. If we look at our subscriber universe inclusive of the growth of the digital MVPDs. We think the market is down around close to 3%.

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

At this point, we're out of time. Thank you everybody for joining today's call. If you have any further questions, please give Dan carry or me a call. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks].

Duration: 44 minutes

Call participants:

Joe Dorrego -- Chief Investor Relations Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Initiatives

Lachlan K. Murdoch -- Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Steve Tomsic -- Chief Financial Officer

John Nallen -- Chief Operating Officer

Unidentified Speaker

Michael Nathanson -- MoffettNathanson -- Analyst

Ben Swinburne -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Jessica Reif Ehrlich -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Doug Mitchelson -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Marci Ryvicker -- Wolfe Research

Alexia Quadrani -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

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