CBS had a tough comparison because the year-earlier period was boosted by CBS' broadcast of the Super Bowl, which added $280 million in revenue to the company's top line. But this year, the Super Bowl ran on
"We had a very strong revenue quarter given that we were competing against the Super Bowl. If not for that, our revenue would have been a record," CBS Chief Executive
For the quarter ended March 31, CBS earned $468 million, or 78 cents a share, compared with $443 million, or 73 cents, a year earlier.
Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of 75 cents a share.
Revenue declined 4% to $3.9 billion.
CBS shares fell in after-hours trading. The company released its earnings shortly after the markets closed.
During regular trading, CBS shares gained $1.36, or 2.4%, to $58.01.
During the first quarter, CBS' flagship entertainment division, which includes the CBS broadcast network, saw revenue decline 9% to $2.3 billion compared with the year-earlier period. CBS blamed the decline on the absence of the Super Bowl.
A bright spot was a 6% gain in content licensing revenue. But operating income at the entertainment division declined 5% to $457 million.
Revenue at the cable networks division, led by premium cable channel
Cable networks' operating income was up 12% to $259 million.
Revenue was down 11% to $153 million at the Simon & Schuster publishing house. However, operating income was up 8% to $13 million as digital books represented a larger portion of the division's sales.
In the local broadcasting segment, which includes such local stations as KCBS-TV Channel 2 in Los Angeles and radio station KNX-AM (1070), revenue fell 2% to $626 million. CBS TV stations turned in 5% lower revenue.
Local broadcasting operating income was up 1% to $200 million.
On the conference call with analysts, Moonves promised Wall Street that the CBS broadcast network will again be the market leader in the industry's all-important spring advertising sales auction called the upfront.
CBS is expected to end the current season as the nation's most-watched TV network, averaging nearly 11 million viewers each night in prime time.
Broadcast networks are set to next week unveil their new fall schedules to advertisers in New York.