CBS' Moonves: Current Scatter, Retrans Up, C7 Is Future Ratings

Les-Moonves-B2How soon for a new TV currency? Maybe by mid-2014, according to CBS' Les Moonves.

Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., was asked at a UBS Media conference on Tuesday when a move would occur to extend or change the current Nielsen C3, commercial live ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing, to C7, commercial live ratings plus seven days of time-shifted viewing.

"I think we'll have C7 in a year and a half," he says. C3 ratings are current TV currency for TV advertisers when striking deals with national TV networks.

Moonves reiterated his claim about the lower value of morning-after TV ratings, which tend to get much of the business and consumer press. "The overnight [ratings] are less significant than they ever were," he says. "It's an easy scorecard." For example, CBS' rookie drama "Elementary" only gets about 60% of its viewing live -- and most of it with older viewers. But the remaining 40% of its viewership comes from time-shifting.

Current scatter TV pricing for CBS is at mid-to-high teens percentage price increases over the upfront deals the network struck in June 2012 -- where Moonves said CBS grabbed 9% price hikes over the previous upfront advertising market in 2011.

Subscription video on demand (SVOD) services like Netflix continue to make a bigger impact for networks like CBS -- but the network remains paramount to the company.

"First priority is network advertising; second is syndication; third is retransmission. Fourth is SVOD," says Moonves. "We will not jeopardize the [first] three."

Still, fresher content is heading the way to companies like Netflix. "There will be more new content that goes into that deal," he says. Netflix initially did a two-year deal for older TV library product with CBS.

Moonves says Netflix has asked, in some cases, for CBS to replace some content with other TV shows. Newer "CSI: Miami" content has found its way onto Netflix. Down the road, Moonves says the network might consider working into older seasons of a big show for Netflix, like the first 11 seasons of the original "CSI."

But CBS isn't in a rush. "As all the new technology comes out, we do not have to be first."

Although CBS has long been an ad-centric company when it comes to revenue, Moonves says other revenue areas have grown dramatically: "We are getting paid in so many different ways that weren't on the table three years ago."

CBS' retrans revenue is now headed to $1 billion in 2017, from zero three years ago, and international revenue now at $1.1 billion from $400 million four years ago.  "We are getting hundreds of millions of dollars from the Netflixs and the Amazons," he notes.

CBS will be getting a substantial special programming lift in the first-quarter 2013: the AFC Championships, the Grammys and the Super Bowl. All that will propel the network to higher viewership levels for the rest of the year.

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