ViacomCBS Earnings: Streaming Revenue Soars 92%, but Expenses Also Up

Return of sports helped Q2, whereas “A Quiet Place Part II” barely moved the overall needle

City on a Hill

ViacomCBS outdid Wall Street’s expectations for the second quarter of 2021, though it was an awfully close one in earnings.

Wall Street forecast earnings per share (EPS) of 96 cents on $6.48 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate of media analysts compiled by Yahoo Finance. ViacomCBS reported adjusted diluted EPS of 97 cents on $6.564 billion in revenue.

While the revenue figure was up 8%, EPS decreased 20% year over year on soaring expenses for Paramount+. “South Park” licensing from March to June of last year also helped that quarter’s earnings number.

The return of sports in the form of the final March Madness rounds and professional golf helped out a bunch vs. last year’s giant hole. “A Quiet Place Part II” improved the theatrical bucket from the first full COVID quarter in 2020 — but the overall improvement for the film segment was slight. While the theatrical business was basically nonexistent last year, it still wasn’t close to firing on all cylinders this spring.

Advertising revenue at both broadcast and cable rose 24% from the comparable quarter last year. Ad sales at streaming services Pluto TV and Paramount+ more than doubled. Combined with a big lift in subscriptions, streaming revenue overall jumped 92%.

All told, CBS’ revenue rose 23% to $2.809 billion. At the cable networks, the increase was 8% to $3.475 billion. Filmed entertainment ticked up 3% to $667 million.

ViacomCBS said this morning it had 42 million paid global streaming subscribers, combining Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access) and Showtime OTT. That’s +6 million, and it does not count the free Pluto TV.

“In a quarter of strong business performance, including growth in advertising and affiliate, streaming was a standout,” President and CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement accompanying the financials. “We continued to accelerate our global streaming momentum and delivered phenomenal results across our flagship streaming services. For the second consecutive quarter, Paramount+ fueled more than 6 million additions to our global streaming subscription base, which now reaches over 42 million. This growth was driven by the power of the service’s differentiated content strategy and expanding content slate. Looking ahead, we’re excited about our opportunity to build on this momentum, as we scale Paramount+’s content offerings across genres and expand our reach with global audiences.”

Shares in ViacomCBS closed Wednesday at $38.79 apiece. The stock market reopens a 9:30 a.m. ET. An hour earlier, at 8:30 a.m. ET, Bakish and other top ViacomCBS executives will host a conference call to discuss the quarter in greater detail.


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