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Super Bowl LIII Lifts CBS to Record Revenue During Q1, but Misses Wall Street Projections

Company credits ”Billions“ and ”Twilight Zone“ for 71% increase in direct-to-consumer subscriptions from last year

CBS saw mixed results for its earnings for the first quarter of 2019.

The company posted an adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.37 and $4.2 billion in revenue for the first three months of this year. Although the $4.2 billion was a quarterly record, it cae=me under the $4.3 billion that Wall Street had projected.

Overall, Wall Street had forecast Q1 earnings of $1.36 EPS and $4.3 billion in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance compilation of media analysts. For the same quarter a year in 2018, CBS posted $1.34 per share and $3.76 billion in revenue.

“CBS has once again grown across all of our key financial metrics, while continuing to invest in our future as a global multiplatform premium content company,” said Joe Ianniello, CBS’ president and acting CEO. “We delivered higher profits and achieved double-digit revenue growth, helped in part by Super Bowl LIII and strong increases in affiliate and subscription fee revenues. At a time when others are losing subscribers, our total number of subs across traditional MVPDs, virtual MVPDs and our direct-to-consumer services once again grew strongly during the quarter.”

CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl LIII, despite falling below the 100 million viewer mark for the first time in a decade, lifted the company’s ad revenue by 18%, while affiliate and subscription fee revenues rose 13%, led by growth in the company’s direct-to-consumer streaming services. Ianniello said that subscriptions for Showtime’s OTT product as well as CBS All Access grew by 71% from last year.

Entertainment revenues rose 15% year-over-year to $3.18 billion, helping to offset a 3% decline in cable network revenue ($552 million).

The company recently extended Ianniello’s tenure and suspended its search for a new CEO. The delay in finding a permanent successor to Moonves will likely throw fuel onto the fire that CBS and its former sister company Viacom could be headed for a merger, which has been rumored for the past few years.

Ianniello continued: “In fact, our direct-to-consumer subs grew 71% from last year, and we are seeing strong growth here in the second quarter thanks to premium original series such as ‘The Twilight Zone’ on CBS All Access and ‘Billions’ on Showtime. At the same time, we also continue to produce more and more content for a variety of buyers, including Amazon, Apple and Netflix, which will debut the critically acclaimed ‘Dead to Me’ from CBS Television Studios tomorrow. Plus, in two weeks we’ll be unveiling a whole new lineup of hit shows on the #1 broadcast network — and most-powerful platform in the business — the CBS Television Network. Given our Company’s strong programming pipeline and our early-mover advantage in direct-to-consumer, we feel very confident about CBS’ leadership position in a media landscape that values must-have content above all else.”

CBS executives will discuss the quarterly earnings during a conference call at 4:30 p.m. ET.