Analysts: CW-Hulu Deal Will Further Strengthen Network's Bottom Line After Recent Netflix Agreement

Colleen E. Hayes/The CW

Wells Fargo's Marci Ryvicker says that while "not financially material," the deal is "another way that CW can approach breakeven and ultimately reach profitability."

NEW YORK - The CW's second digital distribution deal of the month, this time with Hulu following a recent agreement with Netflix, will move the network further towards profitability for owners CBS Corp. and Time Warner, according to analysts.

"We estimate that the agreement will contribute about $15 million in annual revenue to the CW and one cent in annual earnings per share impact to each CBS and TW over the agreement," Davenport & Co. analyst Michael Morris said in a note to investors. "While this deal is not massive, it mitigates losses at the CW and lowers the risk profile for developing new content by providing an incremental, consistent revenue stream."

Looking at the Hulu deal, which covers current-season episodes of such shows as Gossip Girl, from the CBS Corp. angle, Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker also argued that the "investment in the CW is looking better and better."

While the agreement is "not financially material," she said: "More importantly, though, this is another way that CW can approach breakeven and ultimately reach profitability, which is clearly good for CBS as it owns 50 percent of the network."

Ryvicker cautioned investors though not to expect a CBS content deal with Hulu. "We do not think that this [CW-Hulu deal] changes CBS' stance regarding the availability of CBS content on Hulu," she said.

Morris also contemplated what the latest digital deal could mean for the content companies involved.

"Time Warner has made less of its original content available to digital platforms, but the company's tone toward potentially establishing agreements has softened in recent months," he said.

Morris added that CBS has been "particularly active" in expanding sales of its content across platforms, striking six deals in recent months, including ones with Netflix domestic and Latin America, Amazon, Hulu Japan and CW/Netflix prior to Friday's announcement.

"We don't see this as a precursor for a larger deal between CBS and Hulu-CBS has been very measured with distribution of network content and continue to generate high-margin revenue from the syndication window, which the CW content does not," the analyst said.


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