CBS Revs: TV Moves Upward, Publishing Sinks

Les-Moonves-A3

CBS looks to a moderately strong upfront period -- much the same as a year ago.

Les Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corp. in speaking to Wall Street analysts for its first-quarter earning results, said: "We will be very aggressive. The upfront market will look a lot like a year ago -- high-single to low-double digit [percentage] gains."

 With regard to current second-quarter scatter advertising activity, he says, conditions are better now versus the same time a year ago. "Scatter pricing is up by double-digits [percentage]." CBS did not disclose actual scatter dollar volume revenue.

Some media-buying executives estimate that CBS grabbed an average 9% gains among the cost per thousand (CPM) viewers during the upfront market in 2012, the highest among all broadcast networks.

Currently, CBS is leading all networks this year among key 18-49 viewers -- for the first time in years.

For its first-quarter 2013 results, CBS benefited from strong advertising sales results from the Super Bowl this past February as well as growth in retransmission fees. All this contributed to its entertainment revenue gains of 10% getting to $2.54 billion.

These results were pulled back some by one less week of NFL games during the first quarter versus the same period the year before. Plus, part of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament -- the semifinals -- were aired in the second quarter of the 2013 versus the first quarter of a year before.

CBS' local broadcasting business moved in somewhat the same direction -- up 3% to $638 million. CBS Television Stations were up 5% in revenue -- because of the Super Bowl XLVII advertising. TV stations also benefitted from higher retransmission fees.

CBS' cable networks -- Showtime Networks, CBS Sports Network, and Smithsonian Networks -- posted 6% growth to $478 million, this coming from higher affiliate revenues as well as higher subscription revenue for Showtime.

Publishing revenues sank 3% to $171 million. Big sellers here continued to be two 2011 releases: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Digital book sales gained 14%, now representing 30% of total publishing revenues.

CBS' outdoor business, Outdoor Americas, was down 2% to $281 million -- due to the non-renewal of several low-margin and unprofitable contracts, as well as declines in Canada and Mexico.

From all its businesses, CBS gained 8% to $2.455 billion in advertising revenue. Revenue from its content licensing and distribution dipped a bit to $1.008 billion from $1.017 billion; affiliate and subscription fees grew to 14% to $519 million.

Overall CBS Corp. revenues were 6% higher to $4.04 billion; net income was 22% higher to $443 million.

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