After being bashed for being too dependent on advertising, now CBS is benefiting from its share of the ad market — advertising is back, up 10 percent in the quarter.
At the 28 TV stations and 130 radio stations owned by CBS ad revenue grew a whopping 25 percent. And now CBS is no longer reliant on advertising — its retransmission revenue is strong and growing — affiliate and subscription revenue grew 15 percent in the quarter.
Chairman Sumner Redstone kicked off the company's earnings call as he has for the past several quarters, declaring that "content is king," and that the company is "top of its game" and "firing on all cylinders."
CEO Les Moonves followed with a positive outlook for the future: each quarter this year has been better than the last, and the momentum is on track to continue through 2011. He says that the ad market is strong, even with out the addition of political ads, and he sees plenty of room for the ad market to continue to recover.
And starting next year the company will start to really feel the benefit of what Moonves calls "dramatically improved contracts" like the Comcast deal. It also helps that the cost of CBS' lineup of shows this year is less than last year.
The company reported $3.3 billion in revenue, down from $3.35 billion last year when the company brought in extra revenue from selling syndication rights to 5 TV series. Earnings excluding one-time items came in at 35 cents per share, beating analyst expectations and up from last year.
The company announced it will buy back $1.5 billion in stock.
CBS has a number of factors working in its favor, including the fact that it's the most-watched U.S. broadcast network, with a number of hit new shows.
Moonves says ad prices in the scatter market are higher than they were during upfronts. But one factor that's different this year: CBS sold more of its inventory during the upfronts, so there isn't as much room for a big surprise.
Moonves says he's a big fan of TV Everywhere — it allows the company to control and continue to monetize its content. But Moonves defended his decision for CBS to *not* participate in Hulu.
Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com