Retrans, Ad Sales Boost CBS

In sharp contrast to its corporate cousin Viacom, CBS reported a 6% rise in revenue to a record $3.9 billion during the fourth quarter, while advertising revenue inched up 1%.

In a statement, CBS said the growth was driven by a 16% increase in content licensing and distribution revenues, reflecting higher international television licensing sales. Affiliate and subscription fees grew 13%, driven by continued increases in retransmission consent revenue and fees from network affiliated stations. The slight uptick in ad revenue was led by an 8% rise in network advertising, partially offset by the benefit to local broadcasting in 2014 from political revenues.

The announcement comes days after former corporate partner Viacom reported disappointing fiscal Q1 results and more than a week after Viacom and CBS executive chairman Sumner Redstone stepped down from both of those positions, naming CBS CEO Les Moonves chairman of CBS and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman executive chairman of the cable programmer.

“We had a terrific fourth quarter, and CBS is now in position to build strong momentum throughout 2016,” Moonves said in a statement. “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. At the same time, our other high-margin revenue streams continue to thrive.”

Moonves added that retrans fees are expected to reach $1 billion in 2016, a year earlier than first anticipated, and are on track to double to $2 billion by 2020.

He added that streaming services CBS All Access, CBSN, and Showtime over the top are attracting young viewers.

“So no matter how quickly the digital world changes — and no matter how viewers want their content — CBS is positioned to succeed,” Moonves added in the statement.