CBS won’t go straight to cable…not yet


CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves acknowledged that he’s heard the suggestion from cable MSOs – why not skip the station level and just sell the CBS network straight to cable. “Right now we are part of the affiliate system,” Moonves told UBS 36th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. That won’t change anytime soon because some affiliate contracts run 10 years. But he didn’t rule it out for the future. “It’s possible,” he said, although also noting that CBS itself has a big stake in its owned owned and operated TV station group.  

The CBS CEO said putting Jay Leno on in primetime was probably the right thing for NBC to do – but don’t look for a similar move by the Eye net. Moonves said CBS makes a lot of money from the hit shows it is airing in the 10-11 pm slot where NBC will put Leno. Also, they’re a strong lead-in for the local news and, he noted, no one cares more about that lead-in than CBS for its O&O stations. Moonves said he was willing to bet that “CSI: Miami” will beat Leno in the ratngs “by a lot.”

You can give Moonves the award for the understatement of the week at the UBS confab: “We really need the autos to come back.” With auto advertising down sharply, along with many other segments, scatter pricing is only running flat with the Upfront. “If scatter pricing was normal we’d be having a phenomenal 4th quarter,” he said.