The money is flowing again into Big Media. Just about every media CEO who recently spoke to Wall Street analysts about this year’s 1st Quarter earnings said that ad sales are up and consumers are spending. “Viacom …
UPDATE, 3:07 PM: CBS Corp chief Les Moonves is such a relentless salesman you can’t resist being suspicious when he makes seemingly over-the-top financial forecasts the way he did today. But the results in CBS’ latest earnings report are too impressive, and his predictions are too specific, to ignore. Moonves says he expects “solid double-digit increases” in CBS’ ad sales in the coming upfront market. That’s one of the most bullish forecasts we’ve heard so far from a network executive. If the NFL season falls apart due to the team owners’ lockout, then “we expect to get a greater piece of the (advertising) pie.” Talking up CBS’ programming, Moonves says that Hawaii Five-0 is destined to become “a billion dollar franchise for us” following an initial syndication deal that prices the show at $5 million an episode. Moonves also is a fan of Netflix and other companies that want to offer TV programs online: Moonves says a deal that would enable Netflix to stream CBS shows in Latin America and Canada “might happen very quickly.” He’s also talking to Amazon, and expects to hear from Blockbuster as its new owner Dish Network considers using the home video chain to launch an online subscription service. Revenue from the Netflix deal that Moonves cut in February will appear on CBS’ books beginning in the second quarter.
In other matters, Moonves says that “there are a lot of moving pieces” with the Warner Bros-produced sitcom Two And A Half Men now that Charlie Sheen is gone, and he doesn’t know whether it will return. The CEO also says that he “has no great intent to sell” CBS’ outdoor advertising business.
The bullish predictions, the strong 1Q results, a decision to double CBS’ dividend to 10 cents a share, and the company’s plan to keep buying back its stock had a predictable result: The price of CBS’ shares rose 4.4% in after-hours trading.
PREVIOUS, 1:40 PM: CBS Corporation just provided yet more evidence that the advertising market is regaining its strength. The broadcast company’s 1Q earnings smashed through analysts’ expectations.
UPDATE, 6:55 AM: CEO Philippe Dauman says that Paramount is starting to make business plans for 2013 and 2014 and “can accommodate having Dreamworks [Animation] titles in or out” after their distribution deal expires next year. He told analysts, in a conference call, that the companies have “a strong relationship” and that he’s ready to discuss a new deal whenever Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is ready. But he added that Paramount’s “development pipeline is strong” and will include more animated films following the success of its first effort, Rango.
Dauman also says that the company plans “a very significant increase” over the next year or 2 in the amount of original shows it will run on cable channel Spike. He added that he expects “significant year-over-year gains” in upfront ad sales across Viacom’s networks.
PREVIOUS, 5:11 AM: Helped by a strengthening ad market, TV hits including MTV’s Jersey Shore, and a Paramount Pictures slate that included Rango, Viacom far exceeded Wall Street analysts’ forecasts for its financial performance in the quarter that ended in March. The entertainment giant reported net earnings of $376 million, up 47% vs. the same period last year, on revenues of $3.3 billion, up 20%. That translated into 72 cents in earnings per share. The consensus forecast among analysts put earnings of 61 cents with revenues of $3 billion.
“This was an outstanding quarter, reflecting our continued operating momentum,” Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said in a prepared statement.