“With the addition of the NFL on Thursday night our schedule is pretty darn tight,” the CBS chief told the Deutsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference this morning. Les Moonves says he’s considering 18 pilots this year, including spinoffs of NCIS and CSI, compared with about 22 last year. And “you only need four winners” so “you’d better be damn good or you’re not going to get on.” He acknowledged that his network’s Monday night shows have been “slightly disappointing. … NBC did well with The Voice.” As a result, people should “not be surprised to see The Big Bang Theory on Monday nights” in the first six weeks of the season — overlapping the eight-week period when CBS will have NFL games on Thursday nights — as well as “a returning successful show or a new show” at 10 PM.
Related: 2014 CBS Pilots
On other matters: Moonves says that he’d consider turning CBS into an Internet service if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with Aereo in broadcasters’ case that charges the streaming service with infringing on their copyrights. “If Aereo should win, we could go over-the-top with CBS….We will come up with some other way to offer our content and get paid for it.” But the CEO likes the status quo, including in pay TV with its bundled channels and requirement for Showtime customers to also subscribe to expanded basic services. “There are opportunities for a la carte [pricing], but we’ve avoided them. We like the ecosystem.”
Moonves observed that “people call me the eternal optimist, the eternal salesman” and he said nothing today to change that reputation. As Comcast proceeds in its $45.2B effort to buy Time Warner Cable he’s confident that CBS can negotiate a deal that will meld elements of its deals with the two cable giants. Moonves wouldn’t give a precise estimate for how much of an increase in ad rates he expects in this year’s upfront market. Generally speaking, “the guy with the best content does very well….and we have a lot of premium content that’s doing extraordinary well.”