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Earnings Preview: CBS 3Q earnings seen up

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Broadcaster CBS Corp. reports its third-quarter earnings on Wednesday after the market closes as investors assess the impact of the lackluster start to the TV season on the company's financial results.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Broadcast networks were experiencing weak audience ratings as the new TV season got underway in late August and early September.

Evercore Partners analyst Alan Gould said CBS has had trouble on Monday night, with audience ratings down 39 percent in the first five weeks of the new TV season. He says the show "Two and a Half Men" had an unusual lift last year thanks to the debut of Ashton Kutcher, replacing Charlie Sheen. With ratings down significantly this year, advertising revenue could take a hit.

Audiences were also pulled away during the quarter by the London Olympics on NBC. However, the impacts could be offset by higher political ad spending in the presidential election year.

On the other hand, CBS is making more of its revenue from re-selling older TV shows to online outlets and overseas. This week, CBS said it was selling shows that were no longer on air to the online video service Hulu Plus, although the benefit from the deal will not likely be felt until the shows begin appearing there in January.

WHY IT MATTERS: CBS' revenue is still nearly two-thirds tied to advertising and its fortunes tend to move in tandem with the overall economy. Its results will reflect the health of companies overall and their prospects for the future.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Analysts polled by FactSet expect CBS to earn 61 cents per share on revenue of $3.49 billion.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: Last year, the company earned 50 cents per share on revenue of $3.37 billion.