CBS’s First-Quarter Earnings Up on Super Bowl Ad Revenue

Super Bowl broadcast buoys results at the Eye

Superbowl CBS Ad Revenue
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

CBS Corp. said net income rose in the first quarter, buoyed by higher ad rates its flagship network won for its broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII. First-quarter revenue rose to about $4.04 billion, up from approximately 6 percent from the $3.8 billion it secured in the year-earlier period.

Net earnings for the first quarter running through March came to $463 million, up 22 percent from $394 million a year earlier, CBS said.

CBS said it notched an 8 percent increase in ad revenues thanks to the Super Bowl broadcast. Approximately two-thirds of the company’s revenue hinges on advertising, and there have been concerns among Wall Street analysts that all the media companies with broadcast-network holdings would see declines in ad revenue due to ratings declines that have affected all the broadcasters during the current TV season.

But CBS said revenue at its entertainment assets, which include the CBS network as well as CBS-owned local broadcast stations, rose 10%, to $2.54 billion, in the first quarter due to Super Bowl ad sales and growth in network affiliation fees. The increases were partially offset by having one less week of regular-season NFL games to telecast as well as the timing of the semifinals of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, which aired during the second quarter in 2013 compared with the first quarter in 2012.

The results show just how powerful a catalyst the Super Bowl is for media companies. Earlier Wednesday, Comcast Corp. said first-quarter revenue at its NBC Universal declined due to comparisions with the 2012 first quarter, when NBC broadcast the gridiron classic.

In a conference call with investors, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves attributed the performance to broadcast of several major events including the Grammys as well as the Super Bowl.

Cable networks also demonstrated growth, with first quarter revenue up 6%, to $478 million from $452 million in the year-earlier period. CBS said growth was driven by higher affiliate revenues from increases in rates and subscriptions at its cable nets, which include Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix, CBS Sports Network, and Smithsonian Networks.

Publishing revenues for the first quarter of 2013 decreased 3%, to $171 million from $176 million for the same quarter a year earlier.