CBS chief Les Moonves swatted analyst questions so effortlessly in his quarterly call today that you might think he was a slugger taking batting practice. Here are a few of his disclosures:
— CBS has “a new, recently-completed extension with Netflix for our library programming here in the U.S,” he says. It covers fewer titles than the agreement from three years ago, but the company didn’t provide other details. Moonves crowed, though, about the Netflix deal announced last month for Zoo, an event drama to air next summer based on a bestselling novel by James Patterson.
— Moonves dismissed the possibility of CBS buying CNN now that Fox has withdrawn its offer for Time Warner. “It’s obviously something that’s not going to happen.” Some of the high valuations analysts put on the news channel were “sort of silly.” But it was all speculation. “It never became a serious conversation.” He opened his remarks noting that “these are very exciting times in the media business” but “through all the change and all the noise we remain confident in CBS’ growth prospects.”
— Next year the CEO expects more than 75% of his ads to be sold based on the number of people viewing over seven days, up from most deals today that cover viewing over three days. The change could lift ratings for some shows by 50%.
— The upfront market was kinder to CBS than it was to most other broadcasters. “I don’t think we sacrificed price,” Moonves says. “Our CPM growth was substantial.” The network sold 74% of its inventory, down from about 78% last year. “We are not worried because in 10 of the last 11 years [the scatter market] has been up and in some cases substantially from upfront pricing….We’re going to have no trouble selling our scatter.”
— Moonves took a swipe at Aereo following the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of its claim that it could stream broadcast programming without payment. “This removes any distraction” from broadcasters’ efforts to boost revenues from retransmission consent deals, he says. He added that the recent disclosure that Aereo has about 70,000 subscribers shows that there was “a lot of attention for a service that virtually nobody was using.”
— The CEO chided Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes who said yesterday that he plans to increase spending on original programming in part because it’s more popular than syndicated reruns. “It’s ironic that Jeff would say that” because one of his top-rated shows is Big Bang Theory. “They’re running the sprockets off it.”
— Moonves is optimistic about Showtime’s digital future. Its Showtime Anytime mobile app “was a little behind HBO GO, but now we’ve caught up. We’re in most of the country.” He told analysts to look for Showtime to “expand on different platforms.”
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