CBS’ Leslie Moonves on Tuesday signaled his approval of the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda, which could allow the network to buy up more TV stations and get more revenue from retransmission consent fees.
“Overall, advertising is very strong. Our balance sheet is strong. So looking forward, the news out of CBS is pretty positive and I’m feeling very optimistic about the world,” the exec said Tuesday. “Obviously, there is a lot of information coming out of Washington and although we are not the enemy of the people, we welcome the deregulations that are going on there.”
The CBS topper also talked about an imminent renewal for The Big Bang Theory. “We are very close to getting a two-year extension, we’re virtually on the two-yard line. So I expect you will hear news about that fairly shortly,” Moonves told the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference during a session that was webcast.
He projected 48 more episodes of The Big Bang Theory over two years. And he talked about the upcoming Big Bang Theory spinoff series, Little Sheldon. “Picture [Sheldon Cooper] as a 10-year-old boy growing up in Texas, with a very right wing family not used to this 10-year-old genius living in their midst,” he said.
During the session Moonves reiterated his support for the pro-business environment promised by the new administration. The CBS topper last year made headlines when he said Trump “may not be good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS.” (Moonves later called that remark an offhand joke.)
Moonves on Tuesday said Trump’s ubiquity during his early days in the White House was giving a ratings bump to late night CBS shows like Stephen Colbert’s Late Show.
“Stephen Colbert’s kind of humor is clearly working now. Obviously Stephen is a big social commentator and the things that are going on in the country with the president…people want to see social commentary, they don’t want to see fun and games,” he said.
Colbert, who has been aggressively joking about the new president, has seen his show ranked among the most- watched late night talk shows. “Remember in late night, 50 percent of the people are going to like what you do and 50 percent don’t,” Moonves said.
And Moonves praised Late Late Show host James Corden for becoming an “Internet phenomenon” with his own show and celebrity “Carpool Karaoke” segments. “We went from (David) Letterman and (Craig) Ferguson to this new team that’s doing a lot, lot better and has become a major, major profit center, whereas before it wasn’t,” he said.
Looking ahead to the TV advertising spend at the upcoming upfront sales, Moonves didn’t make firm predictions, but looked to gains, especially in cross-platform sales. “People are watching television in very different ways. It’s important that we get paid for all of that,” he said.
Moonves also praised traditional broadcasting for allowing advertisers to reach mass audiences and measure them better than happens online. He pointed to marketers continuing to shift ad dollars back to linear TV: “I think you’re going to see a lot of companies, a lot of their digital budgets, shift back to traditional.”
“Digital is sexy. Digital is cool. Digital is important. But if you want to go sell a car, you better go on NCIS, which is watched by 20 million people,” Moonves added.
March 7, 7:32 a.m.: Updated headline and article with additional context from Moonves‘ remarks.