CBS Corp. Will Take a Look at Hulu, Other Digital Content Deals

Les Moonves
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CEO Leslie Moonves says his company has talked to Intel, Comcast and many other companies developing digital services.

With online video joint venture Hulu reportedly planning to move toward requiring users to prove that they have a pay TV subscription, CBS Corp. will at least take another look at potential content deals with Hulu, the entertainment company said Tuesday.

"We will take a look at it under the authentication model," said CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves, who has in the past questioned the wisdom of fellow media companies' ownership stakes in and licensing deals with Hulu. But when asked by an analyst on his company's quarterly earnings conference call, he also emphasized, "Right now we are very pleased with our digital strategy without Hulu."

Added Moonves: "We are doing extremely well being nonexclusive with the Netflix and the Amazon [deals] and, more importantly, with our site, [where] we keep 100 percent, 100 cents on the dollar."

When the authentication-focused Hulu comes out, "we will, of course, have a conversation with them," Moonves said. "On the CW side, we are doing business with Hulu Plus right now. So we do talk to them, but right now we are very happy with our strategy."

Earlier in the call, the CBS boss had once again said that the company has been in talks with virtually "everyone" eyeing a digital service about content deals, which likely will increase the number of competitors for Netflix. He specifically mentioned Intel and Comcast.

Intel has been reported to have been considering the launch of an Internet-based TV service and has held talks with media companies about potential licensing deals.

And cable giant Comcast earlier this year launched video streaming service Streampix, which is only available to its cable subscribers but focuses on a space that Netflix and Hulu Plus typically play in.

CBS management Tuesday also said that next year, one of two options to extend a streaming deal would come up. It has deals with Netflix and Amazon.

Moonves also told analysts that CBS has been experimenting with online-only series in its labs, but the business model so far isn't ripe. "We have a lot of premium content that is not scripted fictional,” he said. "We haven’t seen the model [to make such programs work financially, but] we are working on that.”


Twitter: @georgszalai