Leslie Moonves: Cord-Cutting, Skinny Bundles Means CBS Makes More Money

Leslie Moonves - H 2014
AP Images

Leslie Moonves - H 2014

"We shouldn't be lumped with those selling 50 channels," the CBS chief tells an investment crowd.

Reacting to recent turmoil in the equity market that bedeviled the stocks of many TV-affiliated media companies, CBS president Leslie Moonves told an investment crowd not to worry.

Cable's "skinny bundle" is "inevitable," he said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. Moonves added that those talking about cord-cutters and cord-nevers are well grounded in fearing the future. "The average cable bill is 99 dollars. It's inevitable that people will be tired."

But CBS is in good position, he believes, because the future will include CBS in whatever format. "If it slips from a large to small bundle, we will get paid more," he says. "If everyone watches it over the top, we will get paid more money."

"We're not selling 30 channels people don't want to pay for," he commented in a shot at competitors.

Moonves doesn't anticipate any big deals on the horizon for the company, but he is "guardedly optimistic" that NFL games will eventually be brought to CBS All Access, the $6-a-month direct to consumer platform. "That will be a game changer," he said, later talking about opportunity in China where CBS' footprint is quite small at he moment.

Appearing the afternoon after the premiere of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, in which Moonves made a cameo, the CBS chief of course heaped praise on his network's new host. Moonves pointed out that Colbert has a younger, hipper audience than David Letterman and is more aggressively doing three- or four-minute bits that could be put on YouTube and monetized.

"I know Colbert booked a ton of money," said Moonves about the opening week. "Colbert can be a significant profit center."