CBS Corp. COO Talks Upfront, Pay TV Consolidation

"Under the Dome" was mentioned at the conference as an example for how CBS uses its existing TV real estate in new ways

Joe Ianniello also tells an investor conference in London about the company's interest in acquisitions and its continuing push into summer originals.

LONDON – CBS Corp. COO Joseph Ianniello on Tuesday once again expressed optimism about the company's position in the current upfront advertising sales season and in the TV industry following a slew of recent pay TV mergers. 

Speaking here at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Telecom & Media Conference in a session that was webcast, he also discussed the company's appetite for deals and its continuing push into original shows in the summer. 

"They are going to be bigger, so we are going to deal with them," Ianniello said about recent pay TV deals, mentioning the Comcast deal for Time Warner Cable in particular. "Comcast also owns content, so they understand the value of it."

He then referenced the planned acquisition of satellite TV giant DirecTV by AT&T and emphasized that CBS' popular programming puts it in a strong position. "Good content is going to find the consumer," Ianniello said. "As long as the consumer has choice, everything is going to be fine."

Asked whether TV distributors' consolidation would lead to acquisitions by content companies, the CBS COO said: "I think we are complete. I think we don't need anything." But he reiterated that "we like content" and "play in the premium space," so if attractive opportunities came up, the company would look at them. 

Ianniello said thought that "we can produce more even with the real estate we have," citing last summer's successful launch of Under the Dome without the need to launch or buy a network. He said the company sees further upside with summer originals. This year, CBS has added sci-fi thriller Extant with Halle Berry to its summer lineup.

Discussing the upfront, Ianniello was asked about deals based on seven-day ratings, saying: "That is now going to become the standard. it just makes sense. I think it is fair that we get paid for that."

Saying that "we're in the very, very, very early innings" of getting paid for the added viewership, the CFO reiterated comments from the company's earnings call that TV content consumption after the third day adds millions of viewers and is a "nine-digit opportunity" for CBS Corp. 

Twitter: @georgszalai