Liberty Media Third-Quarter Earnings Rise

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John Malone

The company controlled by John Malone is eyeing a move by Formula One into the SVOD realm.

Liberty Media on Tuesday posted improved third-quarter financials.

The company reported quarterly earnings of $169 million, compared with $41 million in the year-ago quarter, or $115 million attributable to Liberty stockholders, compared with a loss of $22 million in the year-ago period.

Operating income rose 9.7 percent to $352 million. Adjusted operating income before interest, depreciation and amortization, another profitability metric, rose 2.5 percent to $485 million. Revenue rose 7.9 percent to $1.39 billion.

Liberty Media, controlled by billionaire mogul John Malone, houses such assets as satellite radio company SiriusXM Radio, the Atlanta Braves National League baseball club, Charter Communications and more.

The company earlier this year created three tracking stocks. They are for the Liberty Braves Group, which includes Liberty's Braves Holdings, which indirectly owns the Atlanta Braves and certain related assets and liabilities; the Liberty Sirius Group, focused on the stake in SiriusXM; and the Liberty Media Group.

Liberty also lauded its September deal to buy a stake in the global Formula One racing circuit, with 21st Century Fox veteran Chase Carey to serve as chairman.

Greg Maffei, Liberty president and CEO, during a morning analyst call talked about the motorsports giant likely moving into the subscription VOD realm as his company looks to expand a digital presence. He pointed to a vault of video product and a worldwide fan base to be tapped with a premium product.

"Given the global nature and the dedicated fan base we have, it would seem like an OTT product is something that makes a lot of sense for them [Formula One] and us," Maffei said. Driving Formula One over the top will, however, be complicated by the current broadcast rights regime and relationships with the racing teams.

"I don't think they're impenetrable, but there's things to be worked through," Maffei told analysts.

He also expressed confidence in Liberty's interest in Live Nation Entertainment after an analyst asked about that stake's value in the wake of the Formula One investment.

 "The numbers they produced were great. The numbers clicking ahead look good. And we think there's a lot of things we can do across the Liberty family with Live Nation. So it's certainly something we appreciate," Maffei said.

Etan Vlessing in Toronto contributed to this report.

Nov. 8, 12:00 p.m. Updated with comments by Liberty president and CEO Greg Maffei during an analyst call.

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