The companies are talking and “I’m assuming we’ll be able to make a deal with them,” CEO Les Moonves told investors today at the UBS Media and Communications Conference.
He acknowledged that CBS is “different” from other broadcasters: It’s primarily negotiating just for the CBS network programming and Showtime, not a package of other channels. “That’s why we’re more demanding.”
And the talks involve several considerations including the extent of DirecTV Now’s potential digital rights. “It’s not just economic factors,” Moonves says.
He also dinged AT&T for saying that it offers ABC, Fox, and NBC.
It only offers the local stations they own “which is 20% of the country,” he says. “So it isn’t everybody.”
He added that DirecTV Now is “obviously something they’re going to lose money on initially….There’s no way it can last a whole long time at $35 for 80 channels.”
He also took at shot at the offer to subscribers to add HBO for $5 a month. “They’re not going to get Showtime at $5 a sub.”
Moonves stuck to the party line when asked about the status of CBS’s merger talks with Viacom. Both companies are controlled by Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements, but can’t shortchange other investors.
“We are very happy with the way we are as a standalone company,” Moonves says. “We’re looking at it. We’ll see what happens.”
And CBS doesn’t have to get bigger at a time when others are consolidating. “We’re able to play the game just fine.”
He added later that he might like an opportunity for CBS to get bigger.
Separately, he says he’s “guardedly optimistic” CBS will reach a deal to renew The Big Bang Theory. They’re going through “the usual tough negotiations, but I’m confident we’ll get there.”