By Liana B. Baker
(Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, the television and film company that split from News Corp last June, posted higher December quarter revenue, driven by advertising growth at its sports channels and European satellite business.
The company, which owns cable networks such as Fox News and FX, said its domestic advertising revenue increased 7 percent in the quarter to December 31.
That beat U.S. cable network rivals Viacom and Time Warner Inc, which each reported slower growth than Fox in the quarter.
The company credited the ad increase to double-digit growth at FX networks, its new sports network Fox Sports 1 and its regional sports networks.
Fox has spending heavily on sports, going after ESPN on a national basis with its Fox Sports 1 channel that launched in August. On January 24, it took an 80 percent stake in the New York Yankees YES Network.
Fox, in a statement on Thursday, said it recorded $8.16 billion of total revenue in the quarter, a 15 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. Analysts were expecting revenue of $7.89 billion.
Net income was $1.2 billion, or 53 cents per share, down from $2.38 billion a year ago, or $1.01 per share.
Excluding items such as BSkyB's share buyback program, earnings per share was 33 cents, which matched Wall Street estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Fox's filmed entertainment unit, which includes its movie studio, saw revenue fall 21 percent without the hits it had a year earlier in the quarter such as "Taken 2".
It also had "higher theatrical release costs" in the quarter for some new titles.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Sophie Hares)