ViacomCBS Q1 Advertising Revenue Jumps 21% With Super Bowl LV, NCAA Tournament

Former CBS All Access was rebranded as Paramount+ on March 4

Super Bowl LV
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

ViacomCBS outperformed media analysts’ expectations in the quarter CBS All Access finally became Paramount+. Having the Super Bowl and the return of March Madness on CBS sure didn’t hurt.

Wall Street had forecast earnings per share (EPS) of $1.22 on $7.3 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate compiled by Yahoo Finance. ViacomCBS actually posted adjusted EPS of 1.52 on $7.4 billion in revenue.

Overall revenues rose 14% from the same quarter in 2020 and earnings were up 40 cents per share. ViacomCBS’ operating income was $1.5 billion for Q1 2021.

Super Bowl LV and the NCAA Tournament handed the combined Viacom and CBS a big-picture advertising revenue increase of 21%. Removing cable from the equation, where ad sales slipped 7%, advertising revenues jumped 40% at just CBS and on streaming.

Streaming revenue rose 65% in the Paramount+ launch quarter, though Pluto TV played a role in that as well. Paramount+ and Showtime now combine for 36 million global subscribers, the company said, an increase of six million. Pluto TV has nearly 50 million monthly active users (MAUs) globally, rising from the 43 million ViacomCBS reported at the end of February.

Theatrical revenue dropped all the way down to an immaterial amount, as one would expect amid the coronavirus pandemic. The filmed entertainment segment grew in revenue, however, thanks to the licensing of content to streaming services — including Paramount Pictures’ own Paramount+.

“In Q1, we accelerated our expansion in streaming with the launch of Paramount+ further enhancing ViacomCBS’ ecosystem of premium, pay and free services,” ViacomCBS President and CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement accompanying the financials. “The strong consumer response we have seen is evident in today’s numbers – we have grown global streaming revenue 65 percent year-over-year and we added 6M global streaming subscribers, driven by Paramount+, to reach 36M streaming subscribers globally. In addition, we now have almost 50M global Pluto TV MAUs. Our early momentum in streaming is a testament to the breadth and relevance of our differentiated offerings, as well as our opportunities for growth through Paramount+, as we continue to ramp the availability of live sports, original series and blockbuster movies over the course of the year. ViacomCBS also achieved another strong quarter of results in our advertising and affiliate businesses, which continue to demonstrate the extraordinary power of our company to reach audiences and deliver for our partners globally.”

ViacomCBS stock closed Wednesday at $39.10 per share. The U.S. stock markets will reopen for regular trading at 9:30 a.m. ET.

ViacomCBS executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail.


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