Les Moonves bullish on multi-platform local future


The annual UBS media conference was last week and CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves spoke mostly about the TV network business in his appearance. However, we thought it worthwhile to go back for his comments on the company’s local media business.

According to Moonves, the local business for broadcasting – radio and TV – hasn’t really been changed by the recent national recession.

“Obviously auto slowed down for a period of time, which was harmful for us – and then you had the Japanese auto crisis – and those situations are much, much better. We’re seeing a lot more of them [cars] getting into the marketplace, we’re seeing Japan starting to come up. We’re seeing the US advertisers, the auto advertisers, spending more. But I don’t think the fundamentals of local broadcast have changed much, except in the future perhaps there will be more online in that area. We have stressed that. We have done a major outreach program with now 26 markets where we have a large online presence to work with our television and radio stations. So, once again, that’s the great future thing where you’re getting the brand of CBS in markets where we’ll often have a leading [TV] station or two, or four to seven radio stations all funneling in to the same online site. We think that site can replace the newspaper and the Yellow Pages online in the future – and we’re very excited about that,” the CEO said.

Moonves noted that the online sites are already profitable. “The advantage we have that nobody else has is that we have thousands of salesmen on the street. When you go into a local market – you go into LA, New York, Chicago – we have at least six or seven radio stations where they have a sales team – and it’s not only selling radio, it’s selling online. Our TV station guys are selling both. In addition, we have a designated group selling online. They’re all working together. It’s an opportunity that CBS has that no one else has because of the power of these local assets in TV and radio, in sales, in content, in marketing, etc.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The objective, Moonves said, is to take revenues from Newspapers and Yellow Pages for growing the online business – and CBS is doing that – rather than cannibalize broadcast. He thinks the sort of content-heavy sites that CBS has can eventually replace Newspapers and Yellow Pages online. No doubt that sort of thinking is encouraged by the latest research from USC.

Note: What Moonves says applies to everyone in the Radio and TV business. Partnerships with key brand and focused unique content are a must for all businesses to succeed moving into 2012.