CBS Corp. CFO Talks Netflix, Aereo

8:27 AM PST 06/04/2013 by Georg Szalai

"We're not seeing much consumer demand" for Aereo, Joe Ianniello tells an investor conference in London.

LONDON - CBS Corp. is not worrying too much about the consumer appeal of Aereo, which provides broadcast TV shows online, but will continue to fight it in court, CFO Joe Ianniello said here on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 Global Telecom & Media Conference, he said about Aereo: "We think it's illegal," and the company is ready to continue fighting the company in court. But he also added: "We're not seeing much consumer demand."

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If there turned out to be much demand, "we could have a similar type of offering," Ianniello said. "We are not worrying about it a whole lot." Other observers have also suggested previously that broadcast network owners could start offering their broadcast shows online for a monthly subscription price just below the cost of Aereo if the company prevailed in court.

Asked about Dish's AutoHop service and other new digital services that content companies have criticized, the CBS CFO said Tuesday: "Anybody with models that skip our ads, we must take very seriously."

Ianniello also discussed his company's Netflix relationship, describing content licensing deals with the online streaming giant as "very solid, strong." Asked if he expected the relationship to continue, he said: "We have what they covet, which is good. They may buy differently, but I see the relationship continuing."

Earlier in the day, Viacom unveiled a multiyear content deal with Amazon.com that came just weeks after Netflix said it would not renew its Viacom program licenses across the board. 

Ianniello was also asked about big carriage and retransmission consent negotiations, mentioning Time Warner Cable as one big carriage deal that was coming up for renewal. He said that CBS Corp. was looking to mark carriage and retrans fees to current market levels in the talks, but didn't comment any further.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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