CBS says streaming services & Super Bowl helped it achieve record revenues in Q1

CBS credited its direct-to-consumer streaming services in helping it achieve double-digit revenue growth and record quarterly revenues in Q1, along with the gains that came from hosting Super Bowl LIII and those from affiliate revenue. The network said its over-the-top service for cord cutters, CBS All Access, combined with Showtime’s direct-consumer subscriptions, grew 71% year-over-year — its biggest quarter of growth ever.

Both services are continuing to grow in Q2, as well, thanks to “The Twilight Zone” on CBS All Access and “Billions” on Showtime, the company noted.

In addition, CBS is benefiting from other streamers’ needs for content. It spoke of gains from increasing sales of its content to providers like Amazon, Apple and Netflix, for example. The latter has just debuted “Dead to Me,” from CBS Television Studios, on its service. And CBS is producing “Diary of a Female President” for the Disney+ streaming service, which begins filming this summer.

The market’s appetite for over-the-top streaming TV services has helped CBS succeed in the cord-cutting era, thanks to its investment in streaming platforms and original content for subscribers, like “The Twilight Zone,” “The Good Fight,” “Star Trek: Discovery” and other shows.

However, the Super Bowl played a huge role in boosting subscriptions this quarter — the company even noted that CBS All Access had its “biggest quarter of [subscriber] growth ever.”

But CBS may be able to retain subscribers who joined for the Big Game with its other original programming, like “The Twilight Zone,” which was the most-watched original premiere, for instance.

It also touted upcoming new originals, including a dark comedy starring Lucy Liu called “Why Women Kill” from Desperate Housewives’ creator Mark Cherry; a true crime drama called “Interrogation”; and a brand-new “Star Trek” series starring Patrick Stewart.

CBS said it’s now working to take CBS All Access to more international customers. Having already launched in Canada and Australia, it’s coming next to Latin America and Western Europe.

In February, CBS said it had reached its goal of 8 million streaming subscribers two years early — a figure that included Showtime’s direct-to-consumer subscribers, as well. It said it was aiming to reach 25 million domestic subscribers by 2022, up from its early plan to reach 16 million by that time.

Earlier this week, Hulu announced it had topped 28 million customers, for comparison’s sake.

CBS didn’t update those numbers, but said the company still feels “very good” about achieving them.

What CBS can’t project, though, is how its growth may be impacted by the arrival of the other new streaming services coming to market in the months ahead, including Apple TV+, Disney+, the WarnerMedia streaming service and perhaps even Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile streaming service Quibi. As all will rely on subscriptions, consumers may end up having to pick-and-choose which ones to pay for — as few can afford to subscribe to all.

It did say that it believes Apple TV+ will help it to grow, however, because it will help distribute CBS content to more customers, and boost its own subscriptions as a result.

“Given our company’s strong programming pipeline and our early-mover advantage in direct-to-consumer, we feel very confident about CBS’ leadership position in a media landscape that values must-have content above all else,” noted Joe Ianniello, CBS president and acting CEO, in a statement. 

CBS reported earnings of $1.37 per share in Q1 on $4.2 billion in revenue. It was projected to earn $1.36 per share on $4.3 billion.