Les Moonves Says CBS Isn't Going to Cut Ad Loads

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CBS Corp. Chairman-CEO Les Moonves.
CBS Corp. Chairman-CEO Les Moonves. Credit: Bill Inoshita/CBS

As TV networks respond to ratings declines by reassessing the number of commercials they air, CBS for one doesn't plan to reduce the ad loads in its programming.

CBS CEO Les Moonves said the network has basically had the same amount of ad clutter for decades, speaking at UBS Media & Communications Conference on Monday.

Ultimately, reducing advertising means less revenue, he said.

"It's not an answer to the problem," he said.

Mr. Moonves also addressed why CBS is the lone big broadcaster not currently available on DirecTV Now, the over-the-top service that officially launched last week. Unlike other broadcasters, which are negotiating for a package of channels, for CBS it is just the broadcast channel and Showtime. "That's why we're more demanding," he said.

He also noted that DirecTV Now is only making network owned-and-operated ABC, Fox and NBC stations available, which is just about 20% of the country. "So it isn't everybody," he said.

But Mr. Moonves said he is confident that CBS will be able to make a deal with DirecTV.

While the service's $35 price tag for an 80-channel package is attractive, Mr. Moonves predicted that deal won't last very long. He also said they won't make Showtime available for $5 per month the in the same way as HBO.

When it comes to a potential merger with Viacom, Mr. Moonves said the company is happy the way it is as a standalone company, but that anything could happen.

Mr. Moonves predicted CBS All Access, its direct-to-consumer product, will have 4 million subscribers by 2020. The upcoming "Good Wife" spinoff, digital version of "Big Brother" and "Star Trek: Discovery" are expected to bring in new users. For "Star Trek" in particular, Mr. Moonves said the series should attract a few million fans to All Access.

All Access currently has just over 1 million subscribers.

He also confirmed CBS is in talks with YouTube for live pay-TV package. "It, uh, hasn't been announced yet," Mr. Moonves said.

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