Total sales fell in a quarter with one less NFL game than last year, and declining local ad revenues. But analysts expected things to be slightly weaker — which makes Q1 a winner in Wall Street’s eyes. CBS shares are up slightly in post market trading.

The broadcaster reported net income of $394 million, down 15.8% from last year, on revenues of $3.5 billion, down 2%.   That’s ahead of the consensus forecast for $3.4 billion. And earnings at 78 cents a share beat expectations by three cents.

“CBS turned in another quarter of record EPS, and our investment in world-class content will lay the foundation to
drive future profits,” CEO Les Moonves says. “Looking ahead, we will continue to build upon our position of great strength with a new primetime lineup that we will announce next week, and we expect to be #1 in the Upfront marketplace as well. At the same time, our premium content is also driving growth in our nonadvertising revenue sources.”

Sales at the Entertainment unit, which includes the CBS network, fell 1.8% to $2.26 billion, with operating income down 17.6% to to $346 million. The company says that growth in retransmission consent fees helped to offset the loss of the football game, and licensing income. Costs still rose due to “higher investment in sports and entertainment programming.”

At the cable networks, led by Showtime, revenues increased 0.4% to $539 million while operating profits dropped 1.2% to $251 million. Affiliate and international licensing sales improved, but last year included cash from the syndication of Dexter to Netflix.

The TV and radio stations were hit by declining entertainment and retail ad sales. Their revenues fell 5% to $596 million with operating income down 10% to $161 million.

And the Simon & Schuster publishing unit benefited from lower costs as well as success from All The Light We Cannot See and Get What’s Yours: The Secrets To Maxing Out Your Social Security. Revenues slipped 5.2% to $145 million but operating income improved 9.1% to $12 million.