ViacomCBS reported lower fiscal first-quarter earnings with tough comparisons to a year ago when it aired the Super Bowl and March Madness.
Net earnings were $516 million or 84 cents a share, down from $1.959 billion, or $3.18 a year ago.
Earnings include a gain of $549 million from the sale of Television City. A year ago, the company had a tax benefit of $678 million.
Revenue fell 6% to $6.669 billion.
Ad revenue fell 19% to $2.484 billion. Excluding the Super Bowl broadcast by CBS in 2019, ad sales were up 2%.
Affiliate revenue rose 1%.
Domestic streaming and digital video revenue was up 51% to $471 million. Streaming subscribers were up 50% to 13.5 million.
Pluto TV’s monthly active users rose 55% to 24 million.
ViacomCBS’s TV entertainment unit adjusted operating income fell 23% to $573 million. Revenue was down 13% to $2.947 billion.
Ad revenue was down 30% compared to a year ago, when CBS had the Super Bowl and the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which was canceled this year because of COVID-19. Affiliate revenue was up 20% to $734 million.
Cable network operating income was down 11% to $794 million as revenues fell 2%. Ad revenue was flat at $1.12 billion and affiliate revenue were down 6% to $1.463 billion. Expenses fell 3% to $2.064 billion.
“ViacomCBS delivered solid results in our first full quarter, including sequential improvement on key financial metrics, as well as clear operating momentum,” said CEO Bob Bakish.
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also took decisive action to fortify our balance sheet, protect our employees and help communities in need. And through new creative strategies and production models, we continue to deliver must-watch content that big audiences love. Importantly, we are just beginning to tap into the potential of our combined assets, and our growing scale, audience reach and earnings power will become even more apparent as the market rebounds and we put the power of our portfolio behind our streaming strategy,” Bakish said. “I thank ViacomCBS employees around the world for their adaptive creativity and continued focus on serving our audiences, commercial partners and shareholders amid these unprecedented circumstances.”