ViacomCBS says worst is over after 12 percent coronavirus drop

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ViacomCBS, home of “Survivor” and MTV, saw a 12-percent slump in sales last quarter as the coronavirus pandemic sent ad sales down 27 percent.

The declines were offset, however, by growth in the media company’s streaming business, which saw revenues rise 25 percent as more consumers hunkered down at home during the pandemic.

Despite the 12 percent revenue decline, the company’s adjusted earnings of $1.25 a share on revenue of $6.28 billion beat analysts’ predictions for adjusted EPS of 93 cents on revenue of $6.17 billion. Shares rose 4.8 percent to $27.24 a share in early trading.

Net income on a non-adjusted basis for three months ending in June fell 51 percent to $478 million, or 77 a diluted share.

Chief Executive Bob Bakish on Thursday highlighted the “sequential improvement” of the pandemic-weary ad market since it hit bottom in April. He said June sales were “strong,” and told analysts that the worst appears to be over. “We expect the second quarter to be the bottom in terms of year-over-year decline,” he said.

The company said streaming subscribers across its services, Showtime, CBS All Access and PlutoTV, hit 16.2 million in the period ended June 30, up from 13.5 million, a year ago. Bakish cited Showtime original series “Homeland,” “Billions” and “The Chi” for the subscriber uptick.

Subscriptions helped boost revenue 25 percent to $489 million in the quarter. The firm expects subscribers to reach 18 million by the end of 2020.

Revenue at ViacomCBS’s film division, including Paramount Pictures, fell 26 percent to $647 million as box-office sales dried up due to the closure of movie theaters.

Elsewhere, at the company’s TV Entertainment arm, which includes the CBS network, revenue declined 22 percent, due to slumping ad sales and lower content licensing revenue.

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