CBS Takes Stake in AXS TV
CBS said Thursday it is trading programming and marketing for a minority stake in AXS TV, the television company owned by Mark Cuban, AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and CAA.
While exact financial terms weren't disclosed, insiders say the deal was inked Wednesday night and that it doesn't require CBS to pay any cash for its equity stake in AXS.
Instead, CBS has agreed to promote AXS in yet-to-be determined ways for several years, plus provide access to live events, such as the Grammys, Tonys, Kennedy Center Honors and ACM Awards so that AXS can create "shoulder" programming around them. CBS might also let AXS show reruns of the live-entertainment events that it airs.
Sports programming is not included in the deal.
The deal calls for Cuban, the billionaire owner of Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures and the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, to continue running AXS TV as its president and CEO.
CBS chief executive Les Moonves has been on record saying he is interested in buying cable channels, though he has also complained that there aren't many available at what he would consider a fair price.
Cuban told The Hollywood Reporter that he hadn't seriously considered such a partnership with other major networks.
"Both AEG and I had a relationship with CBS and we brought it up to Les, who loved the idea. We didn't shop it at all," Cuban said.
Cuban wouldn't divulge any specific programming plans, but he said the ultimate goal is to get younger audiences to look away from the Internet and toward the TV set when they want the most up-to-date and relevant entertainment.
"Basically, to make it so they perceive everything online as being old and already over, but there in case you need to catch up, and TV as a connection to everything they are passionate about," he said.
"This is an innovative way to use our tentpole programming to gain more ownership in the cable network business," Moonves said.
"This new partnership with CBS will create a new kind of live-entertainment experience for fans," said Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG.