CBS Corp. CEO: Some SuperBowl Ads Sold for 'North of $4 Million'

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CBS Corp.'s broadcast network has sold Super Bowl advertising units for $4 million, and his company is not looking to offer premium TV network Showtime in stand-alone broadband form for now, president and CEO Leslie Moonves told an investor conference Wednesday.

Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2012 Media, Communications & Telecommunications Conference in Los Angeles, he again blasted Dish Network's advertising-skipping DVR service AutoHop and reiterated that CBS Corp. could exceed its retransmission-consent-fee growth targets.

Asked if Showtime could be made available in "over the top" broadband form without requiring a pay TV subscription, Moonves said there was some debate about possibly charging $9.95 or so a month for Showtime on a stand-alone basis, but that is not in the cards for now. "We like the [pay TV] ecosystem as it is," he said. "It's a very good system. I don't want to break up that system right now."

Asked about Super Bowl XLVII, which CBS will air Feb. 3 from New Orleans, he said the network has sold 90 percent of its ad inventory and has sold some 30-second spots for "north of $4 million." That is believed to be a record. Earlier this year, Moonves had said CBS would target making some sales in that range. NBC last year was believed to have reached around $4 million with one late Super Bowl ad sale.

The past two Super Bowls have set records as the most-watched TV shows in U.S. history.

AutoHop, which all major TV network operators have assailed, "can't exist," Moonves said Wednesday, reiterating he would pull content off Dish as he had told investors earlier in the year. "If they want to continue down that line, we will just not be on Dish."

Asked about Barry Diller-supported Aereo, Moonves also reiterated that CBS feels its technology is hurting broadcast networks. The network is spending money on sports and other popular content, and it "must get paid appropriately" in subscription or ad fees. If people want "crummy" self-made content, they can watch YouTube, he quipped. "CBS is not YouTube."

Moonves also said Wednesday that CBS Corp. looked at Dick Clark Productions but acquiring it didn't make sense in terms of price.

He reiterated that retransmission-consent fees and other new revenue streams have reduced CBS Corp.'s ad revenue from 70 percent to 60 percent of total revenue. "That potentially will go down further than that," he said. And he again signaled that retrans revenue could exceed the annual target of $1 billion before the company's long-held target year of 2017.

Asked about possible deals, Moonves reiterated that he was open to selling the cash-flow-producing CBS outdoor business for the right price since it is not a core content business but added his team doesn't plan to sell or spin off its radio unit.

"There is no burning desire on our part in acquiring anything," he said, sticking to his typical commentary, but he repeated past comments that CBS Corp. could be a better programmer of a cable network than others thanks to its "great library."

Moonves also took some small shots at other broadcast networks Wednesday. For example, he said CBS preferred to follow a traditional fall season launch schedule and not launch early like NBC. "We feel like the scatter market will come our way," he said about ad expectations.

And he lauded the performance of CBS News, led by Scott Pelley's CBS Evening News. Ratings are up from his predecessor Katie Couric, who Moonves joked shall not to be named. If any challenged networks called his team about a potential news alliance, he said CBS would take the call.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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