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Digital, Blu-ray boost News Corp's filmed entertainment Q1 results

In the first quarter of the year, News Corporation's flourishing digital distribution business and rising sales of Blu-ray Discs - that have offset most of the declines of DVD sales - have helped to stabilise the physical sector, growing News Corp.'s home entertainment more than 5% over Q1 2012, said COO Chase Carey in a conference call with analysts.

Globally, News Corp reported $9.54 billion of total revenue for the three months ending 31 March 2013 - a $1.14 billion or 14% increase over the $8.40 billion of revenue reported in the prior year quarter. Approximately 55% of the revenue increase reflects growth at the Cable Network Programming, Filmed Entertainment and Television segments, partially offset by lower revenues at the Publishing segment.

Filmed Entertainment reported quarterly segment operating income of $289 million on a $2,014 turnover. The same period last year, the company reported an operating income of $272m on a turnover of $1,722m

Quarterly results reflect the successful worldwide theatrical and domestic home entertainment performances of Life of Pi, which has grossed more than $600 million in worldwide box office and was the winner of 4 Academy Awards. The quarter also included the successful worldwide home entertainment performances of Taken 2 and Ice Age: Continental Drift and theatrical release costs for the successful release of The Croods, the first feature in the company's DreamWorks Animation distribution deal which has grossed more than $500 million in worldwide box office to date.

Releasing movies for digital download before they hit stores and rental outlets as DVDs and Blu-ray Discs may be reversing the downturn in home-video business that movie studios have struggled with in recent years. At least such is the case with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, on Wednesday.

"Pre-DVD digital releases have been a real success for us," Carey said. "I think we're excited that after a period of a couple of years where you were digesting a resettling of the Home Video business, we got some nice healthy growth to that business."

Story filed 10.05.13

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