LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) -- Wall Street knew this was coming, yet no one knows how it will work out.
Rupert Murdoch's reported planned handing of the CEO reins at 21st Century Fox (FOXA) to son James, 42, and installing son Lachlan, 43, as co-executive chairman, assures the 84-year-old media titan will retain a dynastic grip on his television and film empire. But what to expect from Fox after Murdoch cedes full control is anyone's guess.
What is certain is that the Australian-born Murdoch will maintain a watchful eye and firm hand over the company he built after taking over a local newspaper in his native country and will continue to be the final voice on any and all large decisions.
"The official change is being made at a time when Rupert can still probably be there to provide guidance and advise and even step in if need be," said Marla Backer, the managing director at Research Associates. "I don't see an immediate impact."
But how Murdoch's decision to keep Fox in the family plays out long term has cast uncertainly over the company. The news of the transition sent shares of 21st Century Fox down more than 1% before rebounding in late afternoon trading, bucking overall stock market gains. At the market's close shares of FOXA were priced $32.90, reflecting a drop of .18% for the day and 14.33% for the year thus far.
The company has lost more than 14% over its value so far this year on weaker earnings due in part to sliding TV ad revenue. Slower ad sales has been a trend across all U.S. television as younger viewers have cut cable bills and move to online streaming. But the company's Fox television unit has struggled in particular, languishing in fourth place in viewership among U.S. broadcast networks despite last season's big hit, Empire, and the cash cow of NFL football. The company's broadcast ad revenue shrank 7% in its most recently completed quarter, and its ratings were down 41%, according to Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger.