Moonves: CBS Plans Fewer Pilots For Fall

With a strong schedule and the NFL joining its primetime lineup next season, CBS plans to produce fewer pilots this season.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, CBS president and CEO Les Moonves said he expected the network to produce 18 pilots versus 21 last year.

“There’s very little room for new shows,” Moonves said. He said his early plan is to add two new comedies and two new dramas to the lineup.

 “Out of 18 [pilots] we only need four winners,” Moonves said, adding that two of those drama pilots are spinoffs of the NCIS and CSI franchises, making them likely winners. “The bar is set very high.”

Moonves said that CBS produces shows for other broadcast and cable networks, and for the first time is producing a comedy pilot for Fox. "There’s 27 shows in production. That’s the syndication pipeline.”

Asked about going “over-the-top” to reach cord cutters, Moonves said CBS likes the current ecosystem.

But he said CBS was nimble, with a tight management team. “We’re very flexible,” he said. “I’m very hands on… As soon as there’s a change, we can turn.”

Speaking of Showtime, Moonves said that if a distributor didn’t want to work with CBS, it could take the network OTT. Or if Aereo is allowed to remain in business, the CBS broadcast network could go OTT.

“If the government allows Aereo to steal our signal, we could go OTT.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.