CBS Reports Record Fourth Quarter Revenue

Related: CBS Eyes More Originals for All-Access Service

CBS reported record revenues during the fourth quarter.

Net earnings were $261 million, or 55 cents a share, compared to $413 million, or 79 cents a share. The earnings include a $484 million charge to reduce the carrying value of CBS Radio licenses. On an adjusted basis operating income was up 6%.

Revenues were up 6% to a record $3.9 billion. CBS network advertising was up 8%.

Adjusted earnings per share of 92 cents was in line with Wall Street expectations.

"We had a terrific fourth quarter, and CBS is now in position to build strong momentum throughout 2016," CEO Les Moonves said. "Our base businesses are growing well, thanks to the strength of our premium content and the continued improvement in the advertising marketplace. In addition, with Super Bowl 50 here in the first quarter and political spending ramping up into the fourth, we expect 2016 will be a very good year for advertising."

Moonves said CBS' other revenue streams are running wide open.

"Retransmission consent and reverse compensation are set to hit $1 billion in 2016 - a year earlier than expected - and are on pace to surpass $2 billion in 2020. The international market is extremely exciting as well, with demand for our CBS programming higher than ever and new deals that are changing the way we license the Showtime brand overseas. Plus, our new streaming services - CBS All Access, CBSN, and Showtime over the top - are attracting a whole new set of younger viewers on better economic terms," he said. "So no matter how quickly the digital world changes - and no matter how viewers want their content - CBS is positioned to succeed."

Operating income for CBS' Entertainment division, which includes the broadcast network, stations and studios, rose to $347 million from $253 million. Revenue rose 9% to $2.46 billion.

Network ad revenues were up 8% because of a strong scatter market. Affiliate and subscription fees were up 45%.

Cable network operating income was $228 million, down from $241 million a year ago, when high-margin titles were licensed. Revenue rose 13% to $562 million from $499 million. Revenues were higher for international licensing of Showtime original series.

Local broadcast operating income dropped to $232 million from $292 million a year ago. Revenues were down to $719 million from $785 million. The TV station revenue was down 11% compared to the prior year, when political ad spending was stronger. Growth in affiliate and sub fees partially offset the decline.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.