Moonves: Advertising Bucks The Economy

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves acknowledged the cynics and then attempted to swat away their doubts Wednesday about the economy's impact on the ad market at the CBS network.

"I know people ... question it, (but) we're not seeing a slowdown," he said at an investor event.

The scatter market is also "very solid" and advertisers that participated in the upfront are buying more, while there have been no substantial retractions on upfront commitments, he said. (Moonves also said the core local TV, radio and out-of-home businesses are performing better than a year ago.)

"I know the economy is suffering right now," he said. "I think smart guys realize the way to cut back is not by reducing advertising."

Barclays Capital, however, wrote in a note that despite the "extremely strong prime-time upfront," it is lowering its estimate on ad growth for the fourth quarter to 4% from 5.5%.

"While we estimate close to half of the network's ad revenues come from prime-time programming -- which benefited from mid-teens CPM increases in the upfront -- we believe non-primetime ad revenues grew at a much slower clip, bringing down the overall growth rate at the network," Barclays wrote.

With ESPN having just extended a deal with the NFL for "Monday Night Football" for a huge amount, Moonves said CBS intends to re-up with the league in three years when its contract expires, but the ESPN increase is not necessarily a benchmark.

"ESPN's a different animal, it's really apples and oranges," Moonves said, since it places NFL programming on a slew of platforms in multiple dayparts.

Separately, while distribution deals with Netflix and Amazon involve considerable library content, the structure is such that more recent shows (such as "Medium," which was retired last season) become available once they go off the air. Moonves said there is further opportunity to sell content to Dish Network for its Blockbuster platform.

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