Boosted by higher political advertising at its local TV stations and improved affiliate and subscription fee revenues -- partly from streaming services -- CBS Corp. revenues were up 3% to $4.02 billion in the fourth quarter last year.
Total company-wide advertising revenue grew 7% to $1.87 billion. Looking at just the CBS network itself, there was a 2% gain in ad revenues -- despite the absence of “Thursday Night Football” this past season, which was aired on Fox.
Affiliate/subscription fees from TV stations, OTT platforms, and cable networks were up 11% to $1.03 billion.
CBS now says both OTT direct-to-consumer businesses -- CBS All Access and Showtime -- have a collective 8 million subscribers, two years ahead of schedule.
It now estimates to get to a 25 million subscriber total by 2022. Previously, it projected 16 million subscribers by 2022.
Affiliate and subscription fees grew 17%, from CBS All Access and higher revenues from station TV affiliate fees and virtual MVPDs.
CBS cable networks were up 8% to $551 million in revenues as a result of Showtime subscription streaming service fee gains, higher international licensing sales, and a pay-per-view boxing event.
Content licensing and distribution revenues sank 11% to $1.06 billion, due to the timing of international licensing sales and big domestic sales in the previous fourth-quarter period in 2017.
Local media -- CBS TV stations and platforms -- grew 25% to $561 million, largely due to strong political advertising sales. Local TV stations also gained 11% in retransmission and subscription fees.
CBS publishing business revenues were down 7% to $235 million for the period from lower book sales.
CBS’ net earnings from continuing operations were $561 million -- up from $40 million for the fourth quarter of 2017 -- due to benefits from new tax legislation in 2018.
Total revenue of $4.02 billion was slightly under media analysts' estimates.
CBS stock was down 3% in after-market trading, following its earnings release. The stock closed Thursday up 1.4% to $49.10.