ViacomCBS Streaming Gets Lift in Quarter While Revenue Falls

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ViacomCBS Inc. reported strong growth at its three streaming services, a sign it is well-positioned as audiences shift online from its bread-and-butter business of pay TV.

  • Domestic streaming revenue rose 56% to $636 million in the third quarter, with streaming subscribers to CBS All Access and Showtime OTT up 72% to 17.9 million. The ad-supported service Pluto TV saw a 57% gain in monthly active users, to 28.4 million. ViacomCBS also topped analysts’ estimates for earnings per share and revenue.
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Key Insights

  • ViacomCBS’s revenue fell from a year ago, due largely to a decline in advertising sales. Domestic ad sales bounced back from the previous quarter, but are still down from a year earlier. Overall advertising sales are expected to decline in 2020 due to the pandemic-battered economy.
  • Affiliate sales grew 10% from a year ago. Securing more money from pay-TV operators was a big reason behind the merger of Viacom and CBS. The popularity of CBS, in particular live sports, makes it harder for distributors to drop the company’s cable networks, like MTV and Nickelodeon.
  • The company’s movie studio, Paramount Pictures, didn’t release many movies in the quarter given the continued closure of theaters in many major U.S. cities. It did release a new “SpongeBob SquarePants” movie in Canada, where it grossed a few million dollars. When it goes online, the movie will appear on Netflix overseas and on CBS All Access in the U.S.

Market Reaction

  • Shares of ViacomCBS fell as much as 4.8% to $29.79 in New York trading, with investors focused on the revenue drop. The stock has declined 27% this year.

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  • See ViacomCBS estimates.

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