This is the most definitive statement yet from CBS, where executives have made it clear in recent weeks that they’re looking at new ways to offer Showtime. There’s a “very strong possibility” that Showtime will be offered directly to consumers over the Internet “and possibly with CBS as well,” CEO Les Moonves told investors today at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. Overseas the company is considering “making an offering like HBO did with HBO Nordic…And there could be some kind of offering direct to consumers here. It’s something we’re looking at.” Asked about how it might be offered, Moonves said it could be a online service. But he added that “there are ways of going direct to consumer in different packages….Maybe we make it easier for consumers to get Showtime without a lot of the other stuff” — apparently referring to the pay TV bundle that consumers have to buy first in order to subscribe the premium network. “It all goes to the bottom line.”
Time Warner And CBS Chiefs Say They're Considering Taking HBO And Showtime Direct To Consumers
On other matters, Moonves said that Under The Dome‘s ratings were down from last year “but it doesn’t matter….The [financial] model is almost perfect” with $2.5M per episode coming in from overseas distributors and Amazon. “We’re in profit long before the shows see the light of day on CBS.” Extant, sold on the same model, “didn’t go through the roof…but (was) still very profitable.”
The CEO said that CBS might sell some of its radio stations to help it focus on major markets. But he’d “buy TV stations all over the country” if the FCC lifts its restrictions on TV station ownership. Regulators currently bar a company from reaching more than 40% of all viewers and CBS-owned stations reach 38%. “The Mom and Pop (broadcast) guys are disappearing from the market because the big guys can maximize the value.”
Moonves is lukewarm about so-called snackable online content. “Five minute things on YouTube? No, not yet” for CBS, he says. “I’ve yet to see anything breakout….There clearly is a future. Not yet for us.”
Meanwhile, I Love Lucy reruns continue to generate healthy sales for CBS — although the take is down from $25M, a figure Moonves once offered. He now pegs the annual sales figure in the “high teens…it’s gone down a little but it’s still valuable.”
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