In March the CBS chief predicted that “within a year” it would be an industry standard for advertisers to pay for the number of viewers who see commercials within a week after they air (called C7), up from three days (or C3). But Leslie Moonves seemed less certain today when he spoke to the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. In next year’s upfront “there’s going to be a lot more C7” — though it may not be the industry standard. (Earlier today Disney’s Jay Rasulo said it will take longer for the change to take hold.) “I don’t think it’s that hugely significant. … Eventually it’s going to be even greater than C7” — perhaps going as high as C30. “We may not get paid as much, but you’re selling Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, what’s the difference if you watch now or 22 days from now?” Speaking of the ad market, he says that scatter sales are “fine.” National is “stronger than local, but local is OK.”
While most of the conversation involved TV, Moonves said that CBS Films has had a “breakthrough” this month. Last Vegas has grossed more than $60M but only cost about $28M to produce. “It’s very profitable,” Moonves says. And the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis is “getting a great deal of critical attention.” The CEO says that “the prospects are better” for CBS Films although “I have to admit I like the television business better than the motion picture business as an economic proposition.”
On other matters, Moonves says that plans for an online pay TV services are “in development,” though he isn’t as sure as Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman was yesterday that one would launch in 2014. But the growth of sales opportunities makes him more comfortable about CBS’ rising production costs. “The fact that you can monetize shows in so many different ways means you’re less ratings dependent.” Even so, he doesn’t seem eager to spend a lot more on sports, including the upcoming contest for NBA rights. “I doubt we will be in that bidding,” he says.
Moonves also doesn’t fear that the TV ecosystem will be hit by massive cord cutting. “The amount of people who have cut cords is very small.” Although many college students watch shows on computers instead of TVs, Nielsen is beginning to include them in its ratings.