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Super Bowl Blackout, Ratings Drive CBS Shares Down

Ian Wyatt

CBS (NYSE: CBS) network had the privilege of broadcasting this year’s Super Bowl. Ordinarily, that would give the company’s stock a nice day-after bounce.

Instead, a drop in ratings impacted by a 30-minute blackout delay drove the shares down today.

CBS shares fell 1.3% on Monday, likely impacted by the fact that last night’s game was the least-watched Super Bowl since 2010.

That doesn’t mean a near-historic amount of people weren’t watching. The broadcast of the laugher-turned-thriller between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers average 108.4 million viewers. That’s the third-largest TV audience in U.S. history – but trailing the 111 million-plus sets of eyeballs the last two Super Bowls drew.

The ratings were undoubtedly dragged down a bit by the 30-minute delay caused by a partial power outage in the New Orleans Superdome. The outage didn’t help CBS’ image much either, as the network’s scramble to fill the dead air was sloppy at best.

Still, the mere fact that the network hosted the game has already driven CBS shares up 10% in the last month. When the company’s first-quarter earnings come out sometime this spring, CBS’ airing of the Super Bowl is sure to do wonders for its bottom line. Just look at Comcast’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA) earnings boom after NBC, which it owns, aired last year’s Super Bowl and Summer Olympics.

Investors punished CBS a bit for its choppy Super Bowl broadcast. But expect plenty of better days ahead for shares of America’s number one network – especially come earnings time.

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