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CBS: Amazon, int’l sales key to Under the Dome profits

Under the Dome largeThe streaming deal CBS scored with Amazon in February and international sales were key to pushing the broadcast network’s summer breakout hit Under the Dome into profit, its CEO has revealed.

Les Moonves described the Stephen King-penned sci-fi series as a “brand new form of entertainment” for US summer broadcasting and claimed it would “bring a ton of profits in the third quarter”.

The series has been the best rating summer drama launch since 1992, “proving network television can launch new programming anytime of the year”, he claimed.

However, with episodes costing “north of US$3 million per episode”, the exclusive streaming deal CBS scored with Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service in February and CBS Studios International selling the show into 200 territories had been key to keeping costs manageable.

These allowed the show, which follows a community that suddenly becomes trapped under a giant dome, to become profitable even before the show had broadcast.

“Without Amazon’s help and without the strong international marketplace, we couldn’t have done that with normal summer pricing for programming. Now with these guys wanting to get involved and get involved early, the sky is the limit in terms of that and what great assets they’re creating for us,” Moonves said on a conference call.

He added the show’s ratings success – it scored 13.7 million linear viewers on its debut on June 24 and last night posted a steady 11.6 million to remain the most watched show on US television – had helped in retransmission negotiations, though CBS remains locked in a carriage dispute with Time Warner Cable.

Moonves’s comments came as CBS yesterday posted second quarter revenue of US$3.7 billion, up 11% year-on-year. Net income was US$472 million, up from US$427 million a year ago.

CBS rival Comcast Communications posted a 9% second quarter revenue hike in its first full quarter as the sole owner of NBCUniversal. Comcast speed up its full acquisition of NBC earlier this year by paying US$16.7 billion to buy General Electric out the business entirely.