CBS Chief Les Moonves Still Wants to Charge for Ads a Month Later

Some 85% of Commercials on CBS Aren't Particularly Timely, Moonves Says

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CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves said again that the broadcaster will eventually get advertisers to pay for commercials that are viewed as long as a month after they originally air.

CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves
CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves Credit: David Yellen

Marketers now typically pay for commercial viewing over three days, a standard known as C3, and broadcasters are trying expand that to C7. But earlier this year Mr. Moonves went far beyond that to pitch C30.

He pressed that case on Tuesday at the annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference.

"When 85% of advertising at the network is not time sensitive, what's the difference if you watch it in five or six days from now versus three days from now?" Mr. Moonves said. "I think eventually it will be even greater than C7."

Some ad categories, like movies, need their commercials to be viewed live or close to it, Mr. Moonves allowed. But that's not the case for packaged goods, for example.

"We will get paid from people who watch our shows 22 days from now," Mr. Moonves said. "We might not get paid as much, but if you are advertising Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, what the heck is the difference if you watch it tonight live or 21 days from now?"

CBS has already struck some C7 deals and expects more in next summer's upfront market for ad time in the following TV season.

Support from Fox?
Chase Carey, 21 Century Fox's chief operating officer and president, made a similar argument in an earlier talk at the UBS conference.

"C7 isn't a magic line," Mr. Carey said, noting viewers are still watching on the eighth day. "We need to have monetization systems that reflect the reality of how people watch content."

While several media executives speaking at the UBS conference, including Mr. Carey and Time Warner's CEO Jeff Bewkes, noted that sales in the open market for approaching ad time has slowed down over the past month, Mr. Moonves said the so-called scatter market was "fine."

Many of the conference's discussions with media leaders touched on the prospect of so-called virtual pay-TV operators, which will sell access to TV programming over the internet instead of coaxial cables or satellite signals. Mr. Moonves said he doesn't know whether any such platform will arrive in 2014 but that CBS is open to any service that wants to pay it for its content.

The ability to put content on multiple outlets like streaming video platforms and video-on-demand has helped TV networks' business, Mr. Moonves said. The economics will get even better once Nielsen widely measures eyeballs across all screens, he said.

Mr. Moonves said on-demand and DVR usage is giving CBS additional viewers, with playback coming outside the prime-time window.

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