The CBS chief flipped the argument that Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt made yesterday when he said that he may drop pricey cable channels that generate hash-mark ratings. “That means for the channels that are getting viewers, he’s going to pay more,” Les Moonves told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference today. “He should pay the most for the guy who’s the No. 1 network.” Moonves milked the laughs: “We’re going in next year for $7” per month per subscriber. Although he acknowledged that he’s joking, he added that “it’s bugged us that cable channels showing reruns of our shows were getting paid more” than CBS was for its first-run programming.
Moonves kept things light, referring at one point to actor Angus T. Jones as “that kid on Two And A Half Men who’s getting paid $300,000 per episode to talk bad about me.” Jones recently called on people to stop watching the show due to its “filth.”
On a more serious note, Moonves reiterated his call for ads to be sold based on the number of people who watch up to a week after they air — up from the current three days. That would provide a 10% lift for CBS. He says the change should take place in a year and a half, “I’m willing to bet on that.” Moonves also repeated points that his chief researcher David Poltrack made yesterday in defense of broadcast TV. The weak ratings for CBS and other networks so far this season “is not a content issue,” he says. “This has been an aberration” with the election and additional NFL games airing on Thursdays. “By the end of the year…you’re gong to see the comps really level off.” He adds, though, that “one thing we need to have happen is for Nielsen to get better” measuring audiences on DVRs, VOD, and streaming platforms. He calls this season “a tipping point” to demonstrate that overnight ratings “are less and less significant than they ever were.” With all of the new technologies, “it’s a brave new world out there.”