CBS Chief Encourages GOP Candidates to Throw "Crap" at Each Other With Network Ads

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Leslie Moonves

"Let them spend money on us," Leslie Moonves told analysts at a Wall Street gathering in New York.

"We love having all 16 Republican candidates throwing crap at each other," Leslie Moonves said Monday.

"The more they spend, the better it is for us," the CBS chief executive told analysts at a Wall Street gathering in New York.

"Go Donald!" he said, referring to GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. "This is fun, watching this. Let them spend money on us ... we're looking forward to a very exciting political year in 2016."

Moonves was speaking at the UBS Global Communications Conference, where the conversation also focused on cord-cutting, "skinny bundles" and Nielsen ratings.

"The last couple of years have been more disruptive than any time in my career," said Moonves.

That said, CBS is poised for success no matter how consumers want to view their content, he said.

"There's no skinny bundle that's going to succeed without CBS," said Moonves. "Nobody can live without CBS ... some people, especially Millennials, don't want to pay for 180 channels. There's a lot of people who don't want to pay for sports channels when they don't watch sports."

He hinted, as he has in the past, of raising the price of CBS All Access for subscribers who want their content ad-free.

"Overnight ratings mean very little," Moonves said of traditional TV, revisiting a common theme of his. He talked up C3 and C7, where ratings take into account viewership three days and seven days after airing on TV, and suggested the next step is C30 and "C-infinity."

Moonves boasted about the popularity of the Showtime OTT service, noting that 80 million don't have the cable channel but can now watch digitally for $10.99 a month. He refused to say how many people subscribe to the OTT product, though.

"We'll do that when Netflix tells us how many people are really watching House of Cards," Moonves quipped.

"The future of Showtime may not be in direct subs, but in Showtime over-the-top, as well as selling the Showtime brand internationally," he said.

Moonves ended with remarks about ailing executive chairman Sumner Redstone, embroiled in controversies involving ex-girlfriends and rumors of mental incapacity.

"It hasn't been a distraction, and nothing's going to change," he said. "I hope Sumner lives to 150 ... not much is going to change. 2016 is going to be a phenomenal year for the CBS Corporation, that's all I'm going to tell you."

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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