CBS' Moonves Predicts CBS Commands Largest CPM Among Nets At Upfront

Detailed upfront marketplace pricing prognostications won’t be coming from senior executives at CBS this season.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank media conference, Les Moonves, president/chief executive officer of CBS Corp., said:  
“We’re anticipating to have the largest CPM [cost per thousand viewers] growth among the networks and the largest volume, as we had for the last number of years. But I’m not going to make a prediction about what the CPM growth will be.”

In past seasons, Moonves had made estimates, suggesting for example, that CBS would get high-single-digit and low-double-digit percentage increases on CPMs. But he adds that those remarks always seemed to get him in a big trouble with his ad sales team and CBS clients.

Repeating some of those comments, Moonves joked: “‘Les said what?’”

Many media industry conferences also asked all senior TV executives about the current advertising conditions -- the so-called “scatter” market, the four quarters of selling periods in which advertisers add to current upfront buys, where TV networks typically pull in 75% to 80% of their yearly TV advertising revenues.

Moonves noted: “The truth is we don’t pay that much attention to the scatter market ... scatter pricing gets higher, it gets lower. It is always above the upfront... We are optimistic; the market is strong.”

Focusing on other revenue sources, CBS is still on target to pull in $2 billion a year by 2020 in retrans fees (from TV providers) and reverse compensation (from TV stations). Moonves says this is remarkable considering it was “zero versus four years ago.”

As it has in previous years, CBS doesn’t have much room for many programming changes for the upcoming season starting in the fall. Moonves says there may be room for two new dramas and two new comedies.

“We are not looking to make many changes,” he says, adding that this is something advertisers like.

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