CBS is the top-rated network and doesn’t have lots of pay TV services that might be left behind as cable and satellite companies explore opportunities to create so-called skinny bundles, with fewer channels and a lower price than the expanded basic package.
So it’s no wonder that CEO Les Moonves says he welcomes the change. “We have the most-watched programming there is anywhere, and we will get paid the appropriate amount for it,” he told analysts on a conference call.
He added that CBS already has made some skinny-bundle deals. “Any time there’s a new bundle, you can assume CBS is applauding it because CBS is going to get paid more than we are [from cable and satellite]. We are ready for it.”
Media stocks were crushed today after Disney trimmed its cable earnings forecast following subscriber declines at ESPN. CBS suffered too: Its shares fell 4.5%, for a three-month decline of 18.2%.
Moonves remains the happy warrior, telling analysts that CBS “will win the 2015-16 season just as we have done 12 of the last 13 years.”
He sees encouraging signs in advertising, with double-digit pricing increases in scatter sales. “We see that extending beyond Q3,” he says.
The company also is upbeat about its online services, including the new one for Showtime. CBS says that every million customers will generate about $100 million in annual profit — and there are ample opportunities to expand it overseas.