ViacomCBS says first-quarter profit tumbled as the company suffered a 19 per cent decline in advertising revenue due in part to the cancellation of the NCAA “March Madness” men’s basketball championship this year.
The New York owner of the CBS television network, MTV and the Paramount movie studio said overall revenue fell 6 per cent, to nearly $US6.67 billion, compared with $US7.1 billion in the year-earlier period.
The company posted net income of $US508 million, or 82 cents a share, compared with $US1.946 billion, or $US3.15 a share,in the year-earlier period.
ViacomCBS said ad revenue overall would have increased 2 per cent if the company had not faced comparisons to a 2019 first quarter that included last year’s NCAA event as well as the broadcast of Super Bowl LIII.
The NCAA canceled this year’s tournament, one of the nation’s most-watched sports events, due to the coronavirus pandemic. ViacomCBS shares broadcast rights to the games along with AT&T’s WarnerMedia.
The results were better than what Wall Street had anticipated, and CEO Bob Bakish predicted the company, formed late last year by the merger of Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp., would rebound as the nation recovers from the contagion.
“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,” he said in a prepared statement.