OnScreen Summit: Moonves Says CBS News-CNN Merger Not Likely With Zucker at CNN
CBS CEO also says past seasons of select current shows likely to go to Netflix in 2013
By Kent Gibbons, Multichannel News -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/6/2012 1:23:32 PM
Speaking at the B&C/MCN OnScreen Media Summit in New York on Thursday, Moonves was asked if Zucker's appointment made it any more or less likely CBS and Time Warner Inc.-owned CNN would join news forces. He said the same control issues and other obstacles that have stood in the way over the years haven't changed. (Moonves addressed the topic in almost identical terms at the OnScreen event two years ago.)
"It's a tough thing to do, so I would doubt there would be many discussions," Moonves told B&C editor-in-chief Melissa Grego in the one-on-one interview. She asked if he might call Zucker, in that case, and Moonves said no.
Though CBS News and CNN joining news forces is apparently out of the question, Moonves said that he would "love to own a general entertainment network." And if there were a possibility to combine, it would be Time Warner.
"Would I buy Time Warner? Sure, that would be fun," Moonves said. "[B]ut that's not going to happen."
Moonves also said CBS will increase the number of currently-airing shows making past seasons available to so-called subscription video-on-demand viewers. CBS now delivers library shows to Netflix, and when a CBS series goes off the air, as CSI: Miami did in May, all seasons of the show become available on Netflix.
Past episodes of currently-airing series on The CW, the network CBS co-owns with Time Warner, are available on Netflix. "In a few instances," Moonves said, more such shows will be added to SVOD in 2013.
He said CBS has had a couple of years of closely watching the Netflix impact on network advertising, syndication (where CBS procedurals are popular) and retransmission-consent revenue and has decided to go after more SVOD gains. "Frankly, we're going to be more aggressive, because the realization is, through a couple of years, it's not going to affect those things in a negative way."
Though advertisers still rely on that oft-touted adults 18-49 demo, Moonves says that "one of the greatest bullshit numbers of our business is the 18-49 demographic. Over and over I see lazy reporters writing the only demographic that advertisers care about." 60 Minutes, he points out, has a low 18-49 rating but still "makes a lot of money."
Moonves also touted CBS' audience leadership and picked up on Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt's recent comments about getting tougher in talks with cable networks that few people watch. "I totally agree with him," Moonves said, adding that "if what Glenn Britt says is true, we should be getting the most money in retrans dollars."
He repeated past forecasts that CBS' combined retransmission fees and "reverse compensation" from affiliated stations should total $1 billion in revenue by 2017. "But it doesn't stop there. It's going to continue to grow. Our rates are going to get higher and higher."
Hmmm, the LAST company Zucker ran sold controlling interest to Comcast. Maybe Les needs to keep that line open after all?!
Media Mark - 12/7/2012 3:10:00 PM EST
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