CBS Plans Future: Netflix Streams Library, New Shows Readied

Moonves

CBS is hoping the NFL avoids canceled games this fall, but CEO Leslie Moonves believes a work stoppage would not bring a significant blow financially. While many networks lose money on high-profile sports -- including CBS on March Madness -- Moonves said CBS makes money on the NFL, particularly as the ratings go up.

The NFL and its players' union are trying to hammer out a new labor contract to avoid a negative impact on the season. "We're keeping our fingers crossed that there isn't a lockout," Moonves said. "It will not have severe financial consequences for us if that happens."

He spoke at an investor event last week, as did other executives.

Regarding the new CBS deal for Netflix to stream library content, CFO Joseph Ianniello said Netflix isn't paying the same rights fee for each show included, so there could be a difference between "Cheers" and "Medium." Ianniello said CBS set a price per show, and Netflix could either take it or leave it.

"Not all content is created equal, so they're not paying the same rate for every show ... we decided what the price point was -- we presented the terms -- they could either like it or not like it, and we could do a deal or not do a deal, so those are going to be the parameters," Ianniello said.

Ianniello told investors the Netflix deal could have been worth more to CBS had it been expanded: "You should assume that they probably wanted more content, willing to pay higher, doing it for longer term and ... we had to make a deal that made sense for them, but made sense for us, so we did the deal on our terms that we're very comfortable with."

Also speaking was CBS head of entertainment Nina Tassler, who cited continuity with CBS' programming team as a reason for the network's recent success -- particularly in linking operations between the network and studio. Tassler, Moonves, CBS Television Studios head David Stapf and scheduling chief Kelly Kahl have worked together for years both at CBS and earlier, at Warner Bros.

The studio and network have together developed four hits in the last two years: "NCIS: Los Angeles," "The Good Wife," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Blue Bloods." CBS as a company owns them 100% and can make money during broadcast on the network and later in syndication.

During the development process, CBS receives 1,000 pitches a year, orders about 100 scripts and produces 20-25 pilots.

"Our goal is always to order as many CBS-produced shows as possible, but we license aggressively from outside suppliers, too," Tassler said. "We want a network populated with the best shows, period. This builds the strongest platform to maximize advertising revenue and creates the best environment for nurturing our own shows to syndication."

New shows in development for this fall include one about rookie cops in Manhattan produced by Robert DeNiro; a comedy from producer Mark Wahlberg with former "Daily Show" correspondent Rob Riggle; and a reality show tabbed a "workplace series with a competitive twist" from the producing team behind "Undercover Boss."

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