CBS saw higher earnings in its second quarter despite a slight dip in revenue, and has high hopes for further streaming and syndication deals.
The top-ranked US network and its subsidiaries reported Q2 net earnings of US$427m yesterday, up from US$395m for the same period last year, while revenue ticked down from US$3.59bn to US$3.48bn.
CEO Les Moonves pinned the revenue fall on a change in scheduling, noting that the NCAA men’s basketball championships aired earlier in 2012, in the first quarter, than they did in 2011.
“Likewise,” Moonves told investors, the “substantial wave of revenue” from CBS’s streaming deals with Hulu and Netflix was reported in the second quarter last year, but in the first quarter of 2012.
Moonves said CBS will shortly be adding more of its titles to the Netflix catalogue, including the recently cancelled CSI: Miami. “We are working with them about increasing some [series] and decreasing others. And the overall bottom line will be we will get more money for this,” he said.
Through its distribution divisions CBS TV Distribution and CBS Studios International, the company is also expanding its syndication efforts, handling shows from its flagship network and its siblings Showtime and The CW.
Moonves was bullish on the demand for new shows including Elementary and Vegas in Europe. “We’re now selling these shows for millions of dollars an episode before they even air in the US,” he said.
Those sales are expected to bolster CBS through this year and into 2012/13, by which time other shows including Dexter, Californication and The Good Wife will enter the US syndication market.
CBS was among the broadcasters that last month lost a bid to block the digital streaming service Aereo from moving forward, though Moonves yesterday downplayed the threat posed by the service to retransmission fees.
The loss in court was “minor,” he said. “It’s not something I lose sleep over for even five minutes. We think it’ll go away. We think we’ll prevail in the courts. We will always get paid for our content.”