Show Les the Money

CBS CEO Says Marketers Should Pay for DVR, Web Viewers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- CBS is being criticized for ratings declines but you wouldn't know it listening to CEO Leslie Moonves talk about his schedule. The CBS CEO defended his network's performance to analysts at the Citibank Media and Entertainment conference today -- and told them he expects advertisers to pay up for time-shifted and online viewers in the future.
CBS chief Leslie Moonves said he didn't think any significant acquisitions were on the way. 'I'd rather partner with a YouTube than pay $1.6 billion to buy them.'
CBS chief Leslie Moonves said he didn't think any significant acquisitions were on the way. 'I'd rather partner with a YouTube than pay $1.6 billion to buy them.' Credit: AP

Tops in key demos
"CBS right now is the No. 1 network in viewers, households, 25-54s and tied for No. 1 in 18-49s as we begin the beginning of the new year," he said, referring to advertiser-coveted age groups. "And we have the Super Bowl coming up, which will propel our ratings a great deal."

He noted that most of CBS's ratings decline this season was due to ABC's creative scheduling, pitting "Grey's Anatomy" against CBS's "CSI" on Thursday night.

"There's no question we've taken a little bit of a hit because of that," Mr. Moonves said. But he said that head-to-head matchup between shows means there is a "great deal" of people recording those programs -- and CBS plans to get paid in May for that time-shifted viewing, once commercial ratings go into effect.

This year, Mr. Moonves said, "we lost the battle with the advertisers. That's going to change in May when we will get paid by these millions of people."

'All sorts of deals'
He wouldn't disclose numbers on the network's digital revenue because "they're changing constantly." He said Apple's iTunes generated less than $10 million last year and said the bulk of CBS's content on the internet will make money through advertising. "We're making all sorts of deals all over the place," he said. "We've got deals with Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Comcast."

Of course, exactly what that ad model will look like isn't yet clear. "There are a lot of guys working on that and a lot of guys smarter than me who know that better who are determining what's going to be effective. ... The pre-roll, post-roll, banner advertising, what's going to work -- I don't really know the answer to that," he said, noting that YouTube hasn't even put on its first commercial yet.

On the company's promotional deal with YouTube, Mr. Moonves noted CBS programming has had 75 million viewers already: "It's a great way to get content out there ... for promotional value and secondarily for advertising revenue, which will happen down the line."

No big acquisitions
On the acquisition front, he said the company was investing in a lot of places, but said he didn't think any significant acquisitions were on the way. "I'd rather partner with a YouTube than pay $1.6 billion to buy them," he said.

He said radio's weak performance was due to difficult comparisons in the morning-show time period against "the guy who I'm not allowed to say for legal reasons" -- Howard Stern, who defected to Sirius -- and that next year's comparisons will be against the poor performing David Lee Roth and will provide much healthier-looking numbers.
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