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CBS Corp. has attracted strong user figures for its CBS digital subscription service and expects to launch the Showtime OTT service soon, president and CEO Leslie Moonves said at an investor conference on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Deutsche Bank 2015 Media, Internet and Telecom Conference in Florida, in a session that was webcast, he said HBO’s Apple deal for HBO Now was good news for Showtime as it highlights the “good future prospects” for the premium network.
Showtime has announced it would launch an OTT service this year, too, with Moonves on Wednesday saying it would come “in the not-too-distant future.”
Questioned about likely partners, he said the company has had discussions about the service “with the normal suspects,” with pay TV operators originally a bit cautious. Moonves added: “Other than a little bit of consternation from the existing [pay TV companies], I don’t see how anybody cannot view this as a positive for HBO and also a positive for Showtime. There is going to be more revenue.” He also said about the HBO Now deal: “I applaud the showmanship of Apple and HBO.”
The CBS All Access subscription streaming, or OTT, service has attracted users “beyond our projections” and has done “extremely well,” Moonves told the conference on Wednesday, predicting it would launch across more parts of the country with station affiliates soon. Asked if it had more subscribers than the 100,000 people who have tried Dish’s Sling TV, he said he wouldn’t share the number of subscribers, but added: “It’s more than that number. I’ll let you know that.” One Wall Street observer suggested the comment likely meant CBS was well ahead of that figure.
Who is subscribing to the service, which costs $5.99 per month? “You are getting the cord-cutters,” people who want mobility, and superfans, Moonves said. “The cord-cutters can’t be ignored,” he said when asked about that segment. He signaled that in the future, the service could charge people for concerts or other big special events.
The CBSN news service has also attracted strong usage around news events, he told the conference.
The ad market has come back as of late 2014, Moonves also said Wednesday. Scatter market advertising sales improved as of December, and volume has increased, he said. “We are looking at the upfront from a position of strength,” he said, citing a strong schedule, NFL Thursday games, the Super Bowl and ratings weakness at competitors.
Moonves again signaled no interest in selling smaller businesses. He previously said that CBS, which already sold its billboard business, isn’t looking to sell off any more assets, even though some industry watchers have suggested it could sell its book-publishing and radio units. Both, though, fit the conglomerate’s mandate of being a content business, Moonves has said. “In terms of getting smaller, I don’t think you’ll see that from us,” he said recently.
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