Executives debate Apple TV rental service

CBS may consider participating, NBC feels content devalued

NEW YORK -- CBS Corp. may consider joining Apple's 99- cent TV show rental service, but NBC Universal will likely not.

The recently unveiled Apple offering, which launched with TV content from Walt Disney's ABC and News Corp.'s Fox, was a recurring theme on the second day of the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference here on Wednesday.

News Corp. deputy chairman, president and CEO Chase Carey in his appearance here described his company's deal with Apple for the rental service as "a test."

Later in the day, CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves said CBS may consider a rental arrangement at a later point. "I don't necessarily want to rent my shows to another service at the beginning of the year," he explained. "Let us see what happens." He suggested that maybe the two sides will talk again in January or later in 2011.

Given that revenue must be maximized in the digital age, "you should take your time and see what affects your business," Moonves said before predicting that Apple will be happy to offer up popular CBS content any time. "They'll accept our content," he quipped.

Meanwhile, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker told attendees of the Goldman conference that NBC shows are already available for $1.99 as Apple iTunes downloads anyway.
"We don't think 99 cents is the right price point for our content," Zucker said. The company decided against participating as "it would devalue our content," he added.

Moonves also surprised some by saying CBS may end up offering content down the line as part of online video service Hulu's Hulu Plus subscription service. CBS decided to not become a co-owner of Hulu, saying it wanted to remain flexible in who it sells its content to. He said the business model of the subscription is more attractive than the ad-supported original Hulu service.