Leslie Moonves on Donald Trump: "It May Not Be Good for America, but It's Damn Good for CBS"

Leslie Moonves - Getty - 2016
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"Most of the ads are not about issues. They're sort of like the debates," the CBS CEO said.

Leslie Moonves can appreciate a Donald Trump candidacy.

Not that the CBS executive chairman and CEO might vote for the Republican presidential frontrunner, but he likes the ad money Trump and his competitors are bringing to the network.

"It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS," he said of the presidential race.

Moonves called the campaign for president a "circus" full of "bomb throwing," and he hopes it continues.

"Most of the ads are not about issues. They're sort of like the debates," he said.

"Man, who would have expected the ride we're all having right now? ... The money's rolling in and this is fun," he said.

"I've never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going," said Moonves.

"Donald's place in this election is a good thing," he said Monday at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco.

"There's a lot of money in the marketplace," the exec said of political advertising so far this presidential season.

Beyond politics, Moonves said ad sales in general are strong because there's not a lot of places beyond The Big Bang Theory where advertisers can reach 20 million people all at once.

He also said cord-shaving and cord-cutting isn't having the negative impact on CBS that the phenomenon is having on lesser networks.

"You cannot live without CBS," Moonves said, ticking off NFL coverage, Stephen Colbert and 60 Minutes.

The CEO said CBS will be in bundles of just 15 channels, and it will get more money from the providers of those skinny bundles than it gets from the traditional bundles of 180 or more channels. And, of course, CBS All Access for $5.99 a month can capture consumers who shun cable and satellite TV entirely.

"We're going to be in every home, we're going to be on every device," said Moonves.

He said he'd like to see live NFL games on CBS All Access as soon as this year.

Moonves also suggested CBS could sell some radio assets if the right offer presented itself, given radio is a slow-growth industry.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com