CBS’ quarterly revenue tops $4 billion; profit up 22%

The lights didn’t go out on CBS Corp. during the first quarter.

The Super Bowl -- which was marred by a third-quarter power outage that dimmed the lights in the New Orleans Superdome -- helped the broadcasting giant rake in more than $4 billion in revenue in the first quarter. That amounted to a 6% increase compared with the first quarter of 2012 -- and a record haul for the media company.

For the quarter that ended March 31, CBS’ profit soared nearly 22%. The New York media company earned $463 million, or 73 cents a share, compared with $394 million, or 59 cents a share, a year earlier.

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“CBS delivered the most successful quarter in the company’s history,” Chief Executive Leslie Moonves told analysts on a Wednesday afternoon conference call to report earnings. 

The growth primarily came from an 8% increase in advertising revenue, driven by the strong demand for commercial time during this year’s Super Bowl, which aired on the CBS broadcast network. CBS also televised a highly rated AFC championship game, as well as the Grammys.

CBS expects to finish the current TV season in first place among all key measurement categories, including total viewers and adults ages 18 to 49. It would mark the first time since the 1991-92 season that CBS could claim the trophy for having the most viewers in the key 18-to-49 advertising demographic.

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“We are the No. 1 most watched network in the entire universe,” Moonves boasted, perhaps going out on a limb a bit.

For the quarter, CBS’ entertainment division generated revenue of $2.5 billion, up 9.5% from $2.3 billion in the year-earlier period. Network advertising was up 14%, fueled by record rates for the Super Bowl spots.

CBS’ Showtime network and the company’s other cable channels produced revenue of $478 million, a 5.8% increase from $452 million a year earlier. The boost came from higher subscriber fees from pay TV operators.

Simon & Schuster publishing revenue slipped 3% to $171 million. Electronic books now represent a third of the company’s total sales, Chief Financial Officer Joe Ianniello said. 


“We are playing our hand very well in this new age,” Moonves said.

Local TV and radio stations benefited from a bump in advertising. The segment generated revenue of $638 million, compared with $622 million in the first quarter of 2012. That represented growth of 2.6%.

The company, which is controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Sumner Redstone, said it took a non-cash $11 million impairment charge related to divestiture of certain radio stations.



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