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New distribution deals help CBS results

By Paul Thomasch
/ Source: Reuters

By Paul Thomasch

CBS Corp said its quarterly profit and revenue rose sharply, reaping the benefits of new distribution deals and higher spending by advertisers on national television campaigns.

CBS, whose namesake broadcast network is home to hit shows such as "The Big Bang Theory" and "NCIS," said its second-quarter profit rose to $395 million, or 58 cents a share. A year ago, it reported profit of $150 million.

CBS's results come during a stretch of heavy spending by advertisers, who seem undeterred by the drop in network television ratings or the shaky economy. Commercial rates in the scatter market, where marketers purchase last-minute TV time, jumped by as much as 30 percent in the spring months.

Overall revenue rose 8 percent to $3.59 billion, the company said Tuesday. That surpassed the $3.55 billion analysts expected.

Advertising revenue rose 3 percent from a year ago, when it had the benefit of political advertising and higher revenue for the college basketball's championships, known as March Madness.

Industry analysts and investors see more healthy quarters ahead of CBS and the other big media companies, despite questions about the overall U.S. economy, which often dictates advertising trends.

One reason is that 2012 will include both U.S. elections and the Olympic Games -- two events that can inflate advertising budgets.

Yet CBS is looking elsewhere for additional revenue. One hot spot for the company has been retransmission deals, wherein cable companies pay CBS a fee to carry the broadcast network.

Under the leadership of Chief Executive Les Moonves, CBS has also struck content deals with video streaming services from Amazon.com and Netflix. CBS and Netflix now have deals for both U.S. and international streaming.

CBS said its revenue from content licensing and distribution deals rose 21 percent in the quarter.

Those deals have helped make CBS a top choice with media investors. Its shares have risen 43 percent this year, far outpacing not only the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index, but every one of its major media competitors.

CBS shares fell 3.6 percent to close at $26.28 Tuesday in a broadly weaker stock market. (Reporting by Paul Thomasch; editing by Robert MacMillan and Andre Grenon)