Super Bowl LIII, Tax Credit Help CBS Offset Growing OTT Video Content Costs

Advertising revenue from February’s Super Bowl LIII broadcast and a tax benefit contributed to CBS Corp. May 2 reporting a 140% increase in first-quarter (ended March 31) net income to $1.58 billion, compared with $511 million in net income the previous-year period. Revenue increased 11% to $4.17 billion, from $3.76 billion for the prior-year period.

CBS said it received a “discrete” tax benefit of $768 million from the  reorganization of the company’s international operations.

The company said direct-to-consumer video subs, which include CBS All Access and Showtime OTT, grew 71% to 9 million combined subscribers, from 5.3 million in 2018.

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“We are seeing strong growth here in the second quarter thanks to premium original series such as ‘The Twilight Zone’ on CBS All Access and ‘Billions’ on Showtime OTT,” acting CEO Joseph Ianniello said in a statement. “At the same time, we also continue to produce more and more content for a variety of buyers, including Amazon, Apple and Netflix, which will debut ‘Dead to Me’ from CBS Television Studios tomorrow.”

Increased content production for Showtime OTT contributed to the cable networks business unit (which includes Showtime OTT) reporting a 26% drop in operating income to $175 million from $236 million last year. Revenue dipped 3% to $552 million from $571 million last year.

The entertainment unit, which includes CBS All Access, CBSN and other streaming services, reported a 9% increase in operating income to $530 million from $486 million for the same prior-year period. Revenue increased 15% to $3.18 billion from $2.75 billion.

CBS Sports HQ Set Single-Day Streaming Record Super Bowl Sunday

CBS Sports HQ, the free ad-supported streaming sports news network, set new records for daily, weekend and week-long viewership from Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

While TV ratings for the game — which saw the New England Patriots win their sixth Lombardi Trophy — were the lowest in 10 years, online viewership set records, with about 7.5 million unique devices streaming the game – up 20% from Super Bowl LII.

Streamers watched more than 560 million total minutes of live game coverage, which was up 19% from last year, according to About 2.6 million viewers streamed the game per minute, which was up 31% from last year.

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Just ahead of its one-year anniversary, CBS Sports HQ set single-day records for unique viewers, with more than one million viewers on Feb. 3, and streaming minutes, with nearly 14 million minutes streamed. The service also set new weekend viewership records for audience and streaming minutes, and a week-long record for streaming minutes.

“Big events drive big audience, and this weekend was no exception with our most viewers and most consumption yet,” Jeffrey Gerttula, EVP & GM, CBS Sports Digital, said in a statement. “We know the audience will continue to grow as we focus on delivering the coverage sports fans want, on any device, with no barriers to watch.”

Along with several live daily shows, CBS Sports HQ delivered additional on-site reports leading up to the Super Bowl, and on game day streamed 10 hours of original pre-game coverage, plus post-game analysis and highlights.


Netflix: Sunday Viewing Down 32% Due to Super Bowl

Netflix often says major televised events such as the Olympics and soccer World Cup negatively impact streaming viewership. On Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3), the SVOD pioneer confirmed that nationwide viewership on the platform was down 32% compared to a normal Sunday.

“So apparently this Super Bowl thing is kind of big deal,” Netflix tweeted.

Resolute in a programming strategy that eschews live sports, Netflix spent the afternoon poking fun at the Super Bowl while also using the largest one-day televised event of the year to market “Our Planet,” the upcoming original documentary on natural habitats narrated by David Attenborough. All episodes will be released on April 5.

Amazon Prime Video and Hulu bowed trailers for original dramas “Hanna” and the third season of Emmy-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale,” respectively.

“Someone actually scored a touchdown!?!?!” Netflix tweeted after New England Patriots rookie running back Sony Michel scored the game’s only touchdown, breaking a 3-3 tie in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 for their sixth Super Bowl win.

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While Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was named Super Bowl LIII MVP for a game-high 10 catches for 141 yards, Netflix quickly tweeted a picture of a cute fury creature from “Our Planet,” wading through the snow.

“I think we can all agree this the night’s real MVP?” wrote the service.

Many Netflix viewers on Twitter would have preferred the trailer to season three of “Stranger Things,” among other original programs.

“Excuse me, I just watched a three-hour football game to see a trailer I didn’t get,” tweeted one viewer.

“You disappointed us,” tweeted another.

Still another tweeted: “The real MVP could have been a trailer for The Irishman.”

The tweet was in reference to the highly anticipated Netflix original mobster movie starring Goodfellas alumni Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Bobby Cannavale, among others.

The 2019 movie is directed by Martin Scorsese with a reported $140 million — $200 million budget — the highest ever for Netflix.




Sky Bowing OTT Video Service Featuring NBA, NFL Games — Including Super Bowl LIII

Comcast-owned Sky in January is launching an over-the-top video service in the United Kingdom showcasing 40 games from the NBA and NFL – including Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3, 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Dubbed Sky Sports USA, the service will be offered from Jan. 3 through Feb. 5 as part of Sky’s £18 monthly Sky Sports subscription, or from £7.99 daily via the broadband-specific Now TV Sports pass.

Sky Sports USA will feature every NFL game through the playoffs. On the hardwood, U.K. subs can stream NBA’s annual London game, featuring the Washington Wizards against the New York Knicks on Jan. 17. On Jan. 21, the league marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day with three games, headlined by the Memphis Grizzlies.

“Every year, the NFL and NBA London games sell out in a matter of minutes and every year the following for both sports in the U.K. gets bigger,” Barney Francis, managing director, Sky Sports, said in a statement.

“It’s a perfect time to launch a pop-up channel to make sure our customers get the very best of American sports.”