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Paramount misses revenue estimates on ad weakness

By Yuvraj Malik and Helen Coster

(Reuters) -Paramount Global reported on Wednesday quarterly revenue that fell short of analysts' estimates as the media giant struggled with an extended weakness in advertising sales, pushing its shares 9% down.

Total revenue rose 5% to $6.92 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, but missed the average analysts' estimate of $7.01 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

High inflation, softening consumer demand across products and services, and the war in Ukraine have forced companies to pull back on advertising spending.

Paramount said advertising revenue declined 2% in the quarter. Revenue at TV Media, its biggest reporting segment, declined 5% to $4.95 billion, capturing the bulk of weakness in the advertising market.

The company said it continues to see weakness in the advertising landscape. "We now anticipate the year-over-year rate of change in total company advertising in Q4 to be similar to what we reported in Q3," Chief Financial Officer Naveen Chopra said on a call with investors on Wednesday.

Rival Fox Corp on Tuesday reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue, with an 8% rise in ad revenue due to higher political advertising spend on its TV stations ahead of the U.S. midterm elections.

Comcast Corp meanwhile, reported last week a decline in advertising sales and its executives flagged higher costs related to the broadcast of the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament.

Paramount+ streaming services added 4.6 million subscribers in the third quarter, compared to the 4.9 million added in the preceding quarter. Paramount announced on Wednesday a new distribution deal with Britain’s Virgin Media that will bring Paramount+ to Virgin TV in 2023.

Overall, revenue from the direct-to-consumer segment, which also includes Pluto TV, jumped 38% to $1.23 billion.

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru and Helen Coster in New York; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)