News Corp reported its fiscal 2016 second quarter results on Thursday, but the headline story wasn’t that the worldwide conglomerate saw its revenue drop from $2.26 billion to $2.16 billion from the previous year.
Rather, the story was Realtor.com, its growth and what that means for the future of online real estate.
News Corp acquired Move Inc., which operates Realtor.com for the National Association of Realtors, in November 2014.
Since then, Realtor.com’s traffic has grown – a fact that News Corp Chief Executive Officer Robert Thomson like to make specific and prominent.
In a statement attached to the company’s financial results, one of the first items Thomson highlighted was Realtor.com’s impact on the company.
Thomson’s quote mentioned Realtor.com before he mentioned News Corp’s “news and information services,” which includes Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Marketwatch, the New York Post, HarperCollins Publishers, The Sun and other properties.
And he didn’t just mention Realtor.com. He showered praise on it, stating that the ‘rapid growth’ of Realtor.com has News Corp positioned as “the world’s largest player” in online real estate.
“News Corp is evolving rapidly into a more digital and increasingly global company with a diverse revenue mix that we believe will drive long-term growth in profits and shareholder returns,” Thomson said in his opening remarks. “The company is, by most measures, the world's largest player in digital real estate, a position certainly enhanced by the rapid growth in the U.S. of realtor.com.”
According to News Corp’s financial results release, Realtor.com’s average monthly unique users on web and mobile sites for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2015 grew 37% year-over-year to approximately 39 million.
News Corp said that the growth was driven by 57% growth in mobile users.
News Corp also said that Realtor.com’s traffic accelerated in January to 50 million monthly unique users, or 34% growth year-over-year.
News Corp reported that its revenue for the “digital real estate services” sector, which includes Move, increased $54 million, or 35%, compared to the previous year.
News Corp said that Move’s revenue increased 35% on a stand-alone basis to $87 million from $65 million in the prior year.
In July 2015, a report from Barclays downgraded Realtor.com’s main competition, Zillow, because of “slowing traffic growth” as the result of “category saturation” and increased competition from Realtor.com.
Barclays pulled traffic data on Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com from comScore, an independent website that measures other sites’ traffic, and found that Zillow’s growth was slowing significantly, at least as of July.
The comScore data also showed that Realtor.com’s traffic in June 2015 surpassed Trulia’s traffic for the first time in two years.
But Zillow told a different story when it announced its third quarter results in November 2015.
At the time, Zillow said more than 142 million average monthly unique users visited Zillow Group and its brands during the third quarter.
Zillow Group is parent company for Zillow, Trulia, StreetEasy, and other sites.
Zillow also said that according to comScore, the Zillow Group brands represent more than 70% market share of all mobile-exclusive visitors to the real estate category.
So, who’s really the leader in online real estate? Depends on who you believe.
But News Corp certainly thinks it is.