Entertainment division increases 15% to $2.08 billion

CBS Corp. is the latest conglom to report improving earnings, with operating income for the first quarter up sharply compared to the year-ago period thanks to improving ad sales at the Eye and its local TV and radio stations and the influx of coin from February’s Super Bowl telecast.

The Eye said Wednesday that revenue for the quarter ended in March was up 12% year-over-year to $3.53 billion, while adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization climbed 40% to $351.3 million.

Revenue for the entertainment division, encompassing the CBS network, CBS Television Studios and CBS Films units, grew 15% to $2.08 billion, paced by a 25% gain in ad sales at the network and a 19% gain in CBS Interactive ad revenues.

Overall, the Eye narrowed its red ink, reporting a net loss of $26.2 million for the quarter compared to $55.3 million in the year-ago frame.

Revenues at the local stations, cable and outdoor units were on the rise. The Simon and Schuster publishing unit was the only exception, posting a decrease of 6% to $151.7 million, attributed to the “continued soft retail market.”

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