The quality-content landscape is a vastly different animal
than it was a few years ago, said Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp. president and CEO,
and CBS is extraordinarily poised to capitalize on its programming. The likes
of Netflix, Apple, Amazon, cable and overseas distributors need hit shows, and
Moonves emphasized that CBS network, not to mention sister Showtime, has them
"We're looking at a variety of ways to get paid from things
that truly didn't exist [a few years ago]," he told a packed Grand Hyatt
ballroom. "The world has changed drastically the last few years. We can
get paid for a new program 12 different ways. Five years ago, it was one or
Ever confident, and bullish on the evolving media business,
Moonves shed light on CBS' increasingly close relationship with Netflix, while
taking swipes at foes new and old -- including Two and a Half Men co-star Angus T. Jones.
While CBS has proceeded cautiously with Netflix, Moonves
signaled the relationship is on solid footing.
"We are tipping our toe in the water with
Netflix," he said. "We may be ready to proceed with more content
On the cable side, Moonves saluted entertainment president
David Nevins and his creative team at Showtime for boosting the channel into
the same creative discussion as HBO. "They're making a lot of money,"
he said. "It's a very good business to be in."
Moonves said CBS is playing a significant role in bolstering
external cable channels through syndication. Big Bang Theory is on TBS "25 times a day," he quipped,
while the NCIS franchise shows drive
viewers to USA Network's originals. "They realize a hit on network is
irreplaceable," he said.
CBS' standout programs, he added, play a starring role in
overseas television as well-where CBS pulls in around $1.1 billion a year, and
Moonves also took some pokes around the media world. On
Angus T. Jones' disparaging comments about Two
and a Half Men, he said, "That kid...gets $300,000 an episode to talk
bad about me."
(Moonves later said he loved the publishing business, a
relatively mannered industry where he doesn't "have any kids calling me
Nielsen, he said, "needs to get better" to
accurately measure viewing on the various platforms. The subscription TV
operators, he added, pay the cable channels way too much in sub fees, compared
to broadcast. If Time Warner Cable pays ESPN $5.25 a head, said Moonves, CBS is
worth more. "We're going in next year for $7," he joked. "That
sounds nice...that's a nice number."
Turning to morning news, Moonves expressed satisfaction in
the progress CBS This Morning has
been making. Audience is growing, he said, the profit gap between it and Today -- while still yawning -- is
shrinking, and the show's content is solid. "I think it's the best show in
the morning," said Moonves. "If you really want to know what's going
on in the world, you watch CBS This
Moonves wrapped things up by saying he was bullish on the
future. "I know people call me an eternal optimist" he said with a
wide smile, "but I really am optimistic."
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.