Moonves Says Netflix Wanted New ‘Star Trek’

CBS CEO Les Moonves says Netflix and other streaming services were willing to spend at warp speed for the new Star Trek series, which CBS is planning to put on its own over-the-top service, CBS All Access.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco Monday, Moonves called Star Trek CBS’ family jewels and that a lot of thought went into what to do with the new iteration of the sci-fi classic.

“Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, they all offered us a lot of money. They all wanted it very badly,” Moonves said. “We could have taken the quick bucks from Netflix but it shows we’re investing in a property we really believe in the future.”

On the cost side, Moonves said that even before a script has been seen, international sales have covered 60% of production expenses. “The numbers internationally are pretty astronomical.”

“For this relatively minor investment, this is how we’re going to get all access to be where we want it to be, where there are millions and millions and millions of subscribers. And by putting that forward, we said to the world, CBS is really serious about this,” Moonves said. “They’ve taken this crown jewel property and they’ve put it in a place where they know there are so many millions of Star Trek fans that they will pay for this.”

Putting Star Trek on CBS All Access could be the beginning of a long-term strategy to have more original programming on All Access, he added.

Speaking about the elections, Moonves likened the campaign to the circus coming to town. “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” he said. “The money’s rolling in. It’s amazing.”

Moonves said that GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s ability to generate free media wouldn’t hurt CBS financially. “There’s a lot of money in the marketplace,” he said.

Moonves said the candidates are spending more time throwing bombs at each other, rather than talking about the issues. That’s also been the nature of the advertising they’e been running.

“Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say, but bring it on Donald,” Moonves said. “For us economically, Donald’s place in this election is a good thing.”

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.