Leslie Moonves Touts Streaming Future for CBS Offerings

Leslie Moonves - 2015 Venice Family Clinic's Silver Circle Gala - Getty - H 2018
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The company's two primary streaming services — Showtime OTT and CBS All Access — boast 5 million subs.

CBS Interactive "may be the most important part of our company going forward," Leslie Moonves said Tuesday at a Wall Street gathering.

The CEO of CBS said that the company's two primary streaming services — Showtime OTT and CBS All Access — boast 5 million subscribers, which is about 1 million more than he expected by this time.

CBS also has an OTT news offering and an Entertainment Tonight digital channel coming in the fall, and there is more in store.

"We're in pretty good shape to expand the over-the-top offerings as we go forward and, once again, we are going to be able to offer them together and sort of build a CBS all-platform where you can get it all," said the exec.

Moonves was speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, where he made it clear he would not discuss ongoing negotiations to merge CBS with Viacom.

The CEO acknowledged that tech and social-media firms like Facebook are moving into television in their own, digital ways. "Everybody likes getting into the content business," he said. "Not that many people do it that well."

Moonves said he isn't surprised that the NFL is seeking digital partners like Twitter and so forth, but he predicted football would always have a presence on broadcast TV, noting that no cable channel has ever managed to get the rights to the Super Bowl, for example.

"They believe in the power of broadcasting," Moonves said of the NFL. He added he didn't see the need to outbid 21st Century Fox for Thursday Night Football since CBS has The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon on those nights.

"We love football — on Sunday," he said. "We generally win Thursday night after football is over."

Moonves noted that cord-cutters don't bother him because when they sign on to a skinny bundle that includes CBS, the company gets nearly twice what it was getting from that same consumer when he or she was watching traditional cable TV.

The CEO said CBS is ahead of schedule in its goal of racking up $2.5 billion in reverse compensation and retransimission fees by 2020.

Moonves also said the advertising market is strong. "We're happy the Olympics are over," he said. "There's more people wanting to buy now. When you're up against the Olympics, it's tough."