Les Moonves: Television upfront to be stronger next year


Even though we still have six months to go, the CBS Corp. CEO said this week at the UBS Media Conference in NYC he expects the US TV ad recovery to continue and that next year’s upfront selling season will be stronger than 2010’s.

And he’s got some reason to be comfortable with the assumption, with pricing up some 10% in this year’s foray. But as well, he mentioned the current scatter market is up some 35%.

“The networks are starting to get the respect they deserve, finally,” said Moonves. “I think the argument that television is the old medium has been refuted pretty well…And don’t call CBS ‘the geezer network,’ anymore,” he added, noting The Tiffany Network was tops in adults 18-49 so far this year.
Of course, that respect was also due to the ability to convince cable companies to pay more for the rights to air network signals; and the ability to sell content to video distributors. Moonves said CBS is also on track to reach $250 million in subscription fees from major pay-TV operators in 2011, and he said that revenue will continue to grow in the years beyond.
On the other hand, Moonves admitted CBS has been slower to embrace new  platforms like Hulu and Google TV than other networks, but he said the future is a moving target and there’s no need to rush into things that could be risky.

And on the Netflix issue, “Some CEOs think Netflix is the anti-Christ, others embrace it as the Second Coming. We’re somewhere in the middle. Caution is not a bad thing here,” he added.

RBR-TVBR observation: A major reason for scatter being so strong is, of course, the renewed strength in the automotive category. Moonves said he thinks the government’s rescue of Detroit was a success. Hard to gauge for sure at this point, as much of that rescue (and ad spend) was initially funded by taxpayer dollars. But for now, GM and Ford are both doing well, and Ford didn’t need help in the first place.