Pensions, Football Drop CBS to Q4 Loss

Related: CBS Signs Distribution Deals With Verizon, Meredith

CBS Corp. reported a loss in the fourth quarter as it paid off pension benefits and broadcasted fewer football games.

The company reported a loss of $113 million, or 22 cents a share, compared to net earnings of $261 million, or $1.07 a year ago.

In September 2016, the company offered eligible former employees the option to make a one-time election to receive the present value of their pension benefits as a lump-sum distribution. During the fourth quarter of 2016, the company recorded a one-time settlement charge of $211 million.

Adjusted diluted earnings per share increased to $1.11 a share.

Revenue fell to $3.52 billion from $3.59 billion a year ago, when CBS had a full slate of Thursday Night Football games and Showtime had a big content licensing deal.

Affiliate and subscription revenue was up 13% because of gains in retransmission payments.

Advertising revenue dropped 3% because of fewer NFL games and lower ratings for the games CBS did broadcast.

Operating income for CBS' entertainment businesses rose 7% to $371 million from $347 million. Revenues slipped 3% to $2.39 billion from $2.46 billion.

Cable network operating income fell to $219 million from $228 million a year ago. Revenues fell to $501 million from $562 million.

Local media operating income jumped 45% to $216 million on retrans payments and political advertising gains. Local media revenues rose 16% to $526 million.

"2016 was a phenomenal year for the CBS Corporation, with all-time highs in revenue, operating income, and EPS that came in above $4 for the first time in our Company's history; and as we begin 2017, I couldn't be more excited about our growth prospects in the years ahead," said Leslie Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS Corp.

"We are already exceeding our projections to generate billions of dollars in incremental revenue, thanks to our new, fast-growing revenue sources and the strength of our base business," said Moonves.

"At the CBS Television Network, we are on track to be #1 for the ninth year in a row and 14 out of the past 15 years. And with ownership in more than 80% of our primetime lineup, the opportunities to monetize our hit shows across platforms and around the world have never been better. Meanwhile, annual revenue from retransmission consent and reverse compensation has already exceeded $1 billion, a full year ahead of schedule, and continues to grow rapidly," Moonves said.

"We are also taking advantage of the emergence of digital MVPDs through recent deals with Hulu and others at improved economic terms. Plus, our over-the-top subscription streaming services are contributing more meaningfully to our results all the time, and we have yet to launch The Good Fight and Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access and Twin Peaks on Showtime OTT here in 2017," he said.

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.