This article is about how CBS Corporation makes money. Firstly, we explain the key business segments of CBS Corporation and how the company generates revenue from each of those segments. Then, we share CBS Corporation revenues by business segments and revenue type for the year 2015. Then, we share the revenues, the profits, and the profit margins of CBS Corporation for 2015. Finally, we provide an analysis of CBS Corporation 2015 operating profits by business segments.

CBS Corporation is a mass media company with operations in businesses that span across media and entertainment industries, including the CBS television network, cable networks, content production and distribution, television and radio stations, Internet-based businesses, and consumer publishing. The company operates in the following four segments: Entertainment, Cable Networks, Publishing, and Local Broadcasting.

How CBS Entertainment Segment Makes Money?

CBS Entertainment segment consists of the CBS Television Network, CBS Television Studios, CBS Global Distribution Group, CBS Interactive, and CBS Films. Following is a brief description of each of these businesses and how CBS makes money through them.

  • CBS Television Network distributes a comprehensive schedule of news and public affair broadcasts, sports, and entertainment programming through CBS News, CBS Sports, and CBS Entertainment. CBS Television Network generates revenue primarily from the sale of advertising time for its network broadcasts. In addition, the network generates revenue from station affiliation fees.
  • CBS Television Studios and CBS Global Distribution Group produce, acquire, and/or distribute programming worldwide and generate revenue principally from the licensing and distribution of such programming. The programming is produced primarily for broadcast on network television, exhibition on basic cable and premium subscription services or distribution via first‑run syndication.
  • CBS Interactive is one of the leading global publishers of premium content on the Internet, delivering this content via Web properties, mobile properties and CBS apps on mobile, as well as Internet-connected television and other device platform apps. CBS Interactive’s leading brands, including CNET,,, GameSpot,,,, ZDNet,, and, among others, serve targeted audiences with text, video, audio, and mobile content spanning technology, entertainment, sports, news, business, gaming and music categories. In October 2014, the Company launched CBS All Access, a digital streaming subscription service offering an extensive on-demand selection of CBS Television Network content as well as the ability to stream live programming from local CBS Television Stations. CBS Interactive generate revenue primarily from the sale of advertising and sponsorships, in addition to fees derived from search and commerce partners, licensing fees, subscriptions, e-commerce activities, and other paid services.
  • CBS Films produces, acquires and distributes theatrical motion pictures across all genres. Motion pictures produced or acquired by CBS Films are exhibited theatrically in the U.S. and internationally, followed by exploitation via home entertainment (including DVDs and Blu-ray Discs and electronic rental and sell-through), video-on-demand, pay-per-view, pay television, free television and basic cable, digital media outlets, including subscription video-on-demand, and, in some cases, other channels such as airlines and hotels. CBS Films exploits its motion pictures (including certain ancillary rights such as licensing and merchandising) and generates revenues in all media in the relevant release windows.

How CBS Cable Networks Segment Makes Money?

CBS Cable Networks segment is composed of the Showtime Networks, CBS Sports Network, and Smithsonian Networks. Following is a brief description of each of these networks and how CBS makes money through them.

  • Showtime Networks owns and operates three commercial-free, premium subscription program services in the United States – Showtime, The Movie Channel, and Flix. Showtime Networks generates revenue primarily from the license of its program services to numerous MVPDs (Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributors). In addition, Showtime Networks also generates revenue by licensing rights it retains in certain of its original programming. In July 2015, the company launched its digital streaming subscription offering for consumers without a traditional MVPD video subscription.
  • Smithsonian Networks is a venture between Showtime Networks and Smithsonian Institution, which operates Smithsonian Channel. It is a basic cable program service in the United States featuring programs of a cultural, historical, scientific and educational nature. In November 2015, Smithsonian Networks launched Smithsonian Earth, its digital streaming subscription service featuring original nature content, which is available to consumers without a traditional MVPD video subscription.
  • CBS Sports Network is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week cable program service that provides sports and related content, with a strong focus on college sports. The network derives its revenues from subscription fees and the sale of advertising. CBS Sports Network has secured carriage arrangements with the top MVPDs.

How CBS Publishing Segment Makes Money?

CBS Publishing Segment consists of Simon & Schuster’s consumer book publishing business. Its divisions include Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital, and international companies in Australia, Canada, India and the United Kingdom. Simon & Schuster’s major adult imprints include Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, Scribner, Atria Books, Gallery Books, Touchstone, Threshold Editions and Howard Books. Simon & Schuster’s major children’s imprints include Simon Pulse, Aladdin, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Saga Press and Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. Simon & Schuster also develops special imprints and publishes titles based on the products of certain CBS businesses as well as that of third parties and distributes products for other publishers. CBS publishing segment generates revenue from distribution of consumer books in print, digital, and audio formats.

How CBS Local Broadcasting Segment Makes Money?

CBS Local Broadcasting Segment is composed of CBS Television Stations and CBS Radio. Following is a brief description of each of these businesses and how CBS makes money through them.

  • CBS Television Stations produce news and broadcast public affairs, sports and other programming to serve their local markets and offer CBS, The CW or MyNetworkTV programming and syndicated programming. The CBS Television Stations group principally derives its revenues from the sale of advertising time on its television stations. In addition, the CBS Television Stations group receives retransmission fees from MVPDs for authorizing the MVPDs’ carriage of the Company’s owned television stations.
  • CBS Radio is one of the largest operators of radio stations in the United States. CBS Radio’s geographically dispersed stations serve diverse target demographics through a broad range of formats, such as rock, classic hits/oldies, all‑news, talk, Spanish language, adult contemporary, top 40/contemporary hit radio, urban, sports and country. The majority of CBS Radio’s revenues are generated from the sale of local and national advertising.
  • The CBS Local Digital Media group operates the Websites of the Company’s television stations and radio stations. Many of these Websites are combined for the television stations and non-music radio stations in co-located markets. The Websites provide news, information, entertainment, as well as other services, and promote stations’ programming. These Websites principally derive revenues from the sale of advertising.

Key Elements Of CBS Business Model

The following diagram shows the key elements of the CBS business model. It shows key offerings of the different business segments, the type of customers that they serve, and the types of revenue that they generate from those customers.

CBS 2015 Revenues By Business Segments

In 2015 (fiscal year ended December 31, 2015), CBS Corp generated a total revenues of $13.9 billion. Of those revenues, CBS generated

  • $8.4 billion revenues, 60.8% of the total, from the Entertainment segment.
  • $2.6 billion revenues, 18.8% of the total, from the Local Broadcasting segment.
  • $2.2 billion revenues, 16.1% of the total, from the Cable Networks segment.
  • $0.8 billion revenues, 5.6% of the total, from the Publishing segment.
  • -$0.2 billion, -1.3% of the total, were Corporate/Eliminations. Eliminations are transactions that the different segments enter into with one another.

CBS 2015 Revenues By Revenue Type

Of the total revenues of $13.9 billion in 2015, CBS generated

  • $7.0 billion revenues, 50.5% of the total, from advertising.
  • $3.9 billion revenues, 28.1% of the total, from content licensing and distribution.
  • $2.7 billion revenues, 19.6% of the total, from affiliate and subscription fees.
  • $0.2 billion revenues, 1.7% of the total, from other revenue sources.

The definitions of the key revenue types are as follows.

  • Advertising. This includes revenues from the sale of advertising on the company’s broadcast and basic cable networks, television stations, radio stations, syndicated programming, and digital properties.
  • Content licensing and distribution. This includes: revenues from the licensing fees of owned television programming for multiple media platforms and in various geographic locations; fees from the distribution of third party programming; and revenues from the publishing and distribution of consumer books.
  • Affiliate and subscription fees. This includes: revenues from MVPDs for carriage of the Company’s cable networks (“cable affiliate fees”), as well as for authorizing the MVPDs’ carriage of the Company’s owned television stations (“retransmission fees”); fees received from television stations affiliated with the CBS Television Network (“station affiliation fees”); subscription fees for online content; and revenues received for the distribution of pay-per-view boxing events.

CBS 2015 Revenues By Geographic Segments

Of the total revenues of $13.9 billion in 2015, CBS generated

  • $11.9 billion revenues, 85.6% of the total, from United States.
  • $2.0 billion revenues, 14.4% of the total, from International.

Of the $2.0 billion from International, CBS generated

  • $345 million revenues from the United Kingdom
  • $691 million revenues from Other Europe
  • $286 million revenues from Canada
  • $236 million revenues from Asia
  • $446 million revenues from Other countries.

CBS 2015 Revenues, Profits, And Profit Margins

Of the $13.9 billion of CBS Corp total revenues in 2015, $11.5 billion were the cost and expenses. These include: programming and production expenses; participation, distribution, and royalty costs; other operating expenses; selling, general, and administrative expenses; depreciation and amortization; restructuring and impairment charges. This resulted in $2.4 billion of operating profit and an operating margin of 17.4%. After interest and other non-operating income and expenses and income taxes, CBS corp had a net profit of $1.4 billion and a net margin of 10.2%.

CBS 2015 Operating Profits And Operating Profit Margins By Business Segments


CBS Entertainment segment is the largest segment of all the CBS segments in terms of actual revenues or operating profits. However, in terms of operating profit margin, Cable Networks is the most profitable segment. Publishing is the least profitable segment in operating profit volume as as well operating profit margin terms. During 2015,

  • Entertainment segment had an operating profit of $1,294 million and an operating profit margin of 15.3%.
  • Cable Networks had an operating profit of $945 million and an operating profit margin of 42.1%.
  • Local Broadcasting had an operating profit of $765 billion and an operating profit margin of 29.3%.
  • Publishing had an operating profit of $114 million and an operating profit margin of 14.6%.