By Anne Steele
CBS Corp. swung to a loss in the final quarter of the year and said the airing of fewer Thursday Night Football games and lower ratings dragged its revenue lower.
Shares of the media powerhouse fell 1.3% after hours to $64.43.
Advertising revenue -- the largest contributor to CBS's top line -- fell 2.8% to $1.8 billion, hurt by three fewer Thursday Night Football games in the quarter as well as lower ratings from NFL broadcasts in general. CBS said advertising saw a benefit, however, from political spending at local television stations.
Content licensing and distribution revenue dropped off 12% to $893 million; the company said the prior year's quarter was a tough comparison because of significant licensing sales of NCIS and Elementary.
Affiliate and subscription fees, meanwhile, shot up 13%, lifted by growth in retransmission revenue, fees from CBS Television Network affiliated stations and digital distribution services.
Like other media companies, CBS has been aiming to reduce its reliance on advertising revenue to reflect shifts in how people consume television shows and movies. In the latest quarter, advertising revenue accounted for 51% of the top line, flat from a year earlier.
The media company, whose holdings include cable networks and broadcast television stations as well as publisher Simon & Schuster, also has over-the-top offerings such as CBS All Access and its Showtime stand-alone streaming service.
On Wednesday, Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said over-the-top subscription streaming services are contributing "more meaningfully to our results all the time."
For the December quarter, CBS posted a loss of $113 million, or 26 cents a share, compared with a profit of $261 million, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings rose to $1.11 a share from 92 cents a year before, topping analysts' estimates by a penny, according to Thomson Reuters. Overall revenue slipped 1.9% to $3.52 billion.
Two weeks ago, CBS struck a deal to sell its flagging radio unit, a business it had been looking to shed for almost a year. Those results were accounted as discontinued operations in the most recent quarter.
In December, Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari Redstone ended their effort to merge CBS and Viacom Inc., a surprise reversal that followed resistance from key executives. Redstone family holding company National Amusements Inc.--which has nearly 80% voting stakes in both media companies -- said after reviewing a tie-up, "we have concluded that this is not the right time to merge the companies."
Write to Anne Steele at Anne.Steele@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 15, 2017 17:44 ET (22:44 GMT)
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