ViacomCBS Whiffs on Q4 Earnings Despite Reaching $1.3 Billion in Streaming Revenue

“Clifford the Big Red Dog” brought in big green — but expenses soared as well

Courtesy Paramount Pictures

ViacomCBS missed the mark on fourth-quarter 2021 earnings, but revenue growth — particularly at streaming — was impressive. Paramount+ alone added 7.3 million subscribers in the year’s final quarter.

Wall Street forecast earnings per share (EPS) of 42 cents on $7.49 billion in revenue, according to a consensus of media analysts compiled by Yahoo Finance. ViacomCBS reported adjusted, diluted EPS of 26 cents on $8 billion in revenue.

That revenue number represented growth of 16% from Q4 2020. Streaming revenue hit $1.3 billion, up 48% from the same quarter last year. (Streaming subscription revenue jumped 84%, the advertising increased 26%.)

ViacomCBS ended 2021 with 56.1 million combined global SVOD subscribers, up from nearly 46.7 million the previous quarter. Of the new all-in tally, 32.8 million came from Paramount+. In free streaming, Pluto reached 64 million monthly active users.

Theatrical revenue rose 35%. Q4’s big movie, “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” made $48.9 million domestically and $100 million worldwide, and was the most-watched original film for Paramount+ at time of release. The movie was released simultaneously in theaters and on Paramount+ in November.

Broadcast TV revenue rose 18%; cable was up 17%.

“In the fourth quarter you saw the power of strategy and strength of execution across the company,” ViacomCBS president and CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement accompanying the financials. “Our success was evident across all lines of business, and spotlighted by streaming, where we achieved our best quarter ever in streaming subscription growth – more than doubling our subscriber additions from last quarter with a record 9.4M additions, expanding our total global streaming subscribers to over 56M. And, to top it off, we saw meaningful acceleration in our global Pluto TV MAUs, to reach over 64M and generate over $1 billion in revenue in the year. This sets us up well for 2022, where I’m tremendously excited to continue to build on this powerful momentum – investing in global content, distribution, and market expansion – to further drive scale.”

Shares in ViacomCBS (VIAC) closed Tuesday at $35.99 apiece. The U.S. stock markets reopen for their normal trading day at 9:30 a.m. ET.

ViacomCBS is hosting an investor day this afternoon.