Is Les Moonves an online disruptor or a traditional TV dinosaur? Neither, it seems, based on his answers today in a gushy Q&A before an audience at the International CES consumer electronics confab. He describes CBS as a content company, not just as a video distributor. “That’s how we win. That’s how we score.”
That answer should play well among the technology enthusiasts at CES, which Moonves says “is where the world is right now.” Indeed, with new ventures including CBS All Access and CBSN “we’re as active online as we are in the television business.”
The CEO initially resisted pleas from his executives to launch over-the-top streaming platforms. He finally agreed in order to reach the estimated 10 million homes that receive broadband but not pay TV — and to offer more personalized ad opportunities. “When people want to know the name of the product they’ll watch Big Bang Theory or NCIS, and when they want to go further they’ll go online,” he says. In the end “we don’t care when you watch it or where you watch it. We just want it to be counted and to be paid appropriately.”
Fundamentally, though, “we like the [TV] ecosystem the way it is and want to keep it that way,” the CBS chief says.
Asked, out of the blue, about what he expects from this year’s upfront ad sales market, the CBS chief gave a cautious but characteristically Moonvesian answer: “It’s not until May” he says, “and CBS is going to be up more than anyone else.”