CBS' Leslie Moonves Talks Revenue Splits, 'Under the Dome' and 'Breakthrough' Film 'Last Vegas'
Leslie Moonves said CBS Films has experienced a "breakthrough" with Last Vegas, a $28 million film that has so far earned $80 million worldwide.
Still, he added, "I have to admit, I like the television business better than the motion picture business as an economic proposition."
Moonves was speaking at the 41st annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York on Tuesday.
The CEO of CBS Corp. also expressed confidence that his company would win its legal battle with Aereo, a service he said more people talk about than actually use. "I'm tired of talking about Aereo," he said.
Moonves told Wall Street analysts that when advertising revenue for CBS comes down from 70 percent of the total now to 50 percent next year, it won't signal a "crisis," but in fact it will be a good development.
The company's revenue split will change dramatically because of the impending spin-off of its outdoor unit, so a 50-50 split of revenue between advertising on one hand and retransmission fees and other sources on the other hand "is what we like," he said.
The CEO also reiterated that, given DVR programming, in the future CBS expects it will get paid for advertising viewed as many as 30 days after it first airs, up from three and seven days, which is more normative today. About 80 percent of the advertising CBS shows is not time sensitive, he said. "We may not get paid as much, but you're selling Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. What's the difference if you watch now or 22 days from now?"
Moonves also reminisced about this year's much-publicized carriage dispute with Time Warner Cable, which he accused of running off to Washington, presumably in order to gain advantage in negotiations, perhaps via intervention from the FCC or Congress. But he added: "We don't view Washington as being an obstacle." A while Moonves admitted that those negotiations were more public than he'd have liked, it "did sort of set a mark" for higher fees, he said.
He said that it was no fun getting calls from lawmakers complaining that CBS going dark on Time Warner Cable was hurting consumers, but in the end, the free-enterprise system worked.
He also boasted of creating "a brand-new daypart," that being the summer months, where instead of CBS running repeats, it launched Under the Dome and showed some new episodes of existing shows. CBS is taking that summer daypart away from cable, he said, "and you'll see more of the same" going forward.
He also said that people thought he was "crazy" for demanding retransmission fees for CBS broadcast, and now he's getting them.