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Moonves Expects Next Upfront To Be Strong

CBS CEO Les Moonves is expecting an “extraordinarily strong” upfront after two strong quarters in the scatter market.

Moonves, speaking at the UBS Media conference in New York Monday, said that demand for the Super bowl was strong and that the bulk of the spots have been sold at what he called very high prices.

But he said there are always room for a few more spots because a movie producer might be able to convince a studio buy last minute spots for a film, and they would pay more than $5 million.

Moonves said third quarter scatter was “phenomenally good” and that the fourth quarter has been “even better.” That’s sure to lead to an upfront that’s extraordinarily strong.

He noted that in the 2015 upfront, CBS sold 4% to 5% less inventory than it wanted. But it has been selling that inventory in the scatter market. Advertisers are going to realize they could have bought those commercial for 20% less in the upfront, he said.

Moonves said that about 85% of CBS’s affiliates have signed up to participate in its over-the-top subscription service CBS All-Access. He said that one large station gropu was a holdout, but that it “should be at 100% shortly.”

He said affiliates have been behind the product from the beginning, in part because they get paid.

Moonves was also asked if the questions about executive chairman Sumner Redstone’s health was a distraction or causeing CBS to put off potential deals. “No and no,” he said. “It hasn’t been a distraction and nothing is going to change,” he said.

At the end of the session, Moonves said that 2016 is going to be a “phenomenal” year for CBS.

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.